Federal Money Laundering Charges | 18 U.S.C. 1956

November 5, 2016

18 U.S.C. 1956 prohibits the act of money laundering in the federal system.  The statute was intended to combat criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, that generate large amounts of cash income.  Section 1956(a) defines the crime, which is, essentially, conducting transactions involving the proceeds of unlawful activities with specified culpable intent or knowledge.  This charge contained three types of criminal conduct: (1) domestic money laundering transactions; (2) international money laundering transactions; and (3) undercover sting transactions.

Moreover, money laundering is the act of obtaining proceeds or property from an illegitimate source and channeling the money so it appears to be “clean.”  For instance, money obtained from an illegal gambling business, mail fraud, drug trafficking, or proceeds derived from extortion or organized crime, are typically the underlying acts the government proves the money is from an illegitimate source.

To be criminal liable under the money laundering statute, the government must prove:

1) you conducted or attempted to conduct a financial transaction;

2) you had knowledge the money or property was from an unlawful activity;

3) the property was in fact derived from a specified unlawful activity; and

4) you harbored a specified intent.

The government must prove someone harbored knowledge of the monies source to sustain a money laundering conviction.  Often times, money is channeled through multiple people and/or accounts making the last recipient of the money unaware of its unlawful source.  This is especially true when there is a shared / joint account holder and the process of discovery the illegitimate source of the money deposited into the account involves the use of a forensic accountant.


Unlike money laundering in state court, 18 USC 1956 is punishable by up to twenty-two (22) years in federal prison, and carrying a fine up to $500,000.  The fine may be adjusted/increased depending on the circumstances and amount laundered.


If you’ve been indicted or are under investigation for money laundering under 18 USC 1956, then contact an Newport Beach Federal Crimes Lawyer at the Law Office of John D. Rogers for a free consultation.  Our office handles all federal charges nationwide.

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