Money Laundering Charges and Penalties

Money laundering is classified as a white collar crime that involves money obtained from illegal activity. It is a relatively new crime, only listed as an offense in 1986 after Congress passed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act. Initiated as a federal offense, all 50 states now include a similar charge for laundering money. However, because it is often part of a greater circle of criminal activity, those involved in money laundering frequently find themselves facing severe federal charges.

Charges for Money Laundering

When most people think of money laundering, they think of “dirty” money being invested or used to buy property so that it is made “clean”. To be charged with money laundering, it is not actually necessary for the money to be converted into a different form through investing or buying something. Laundering simply refers to the act of receiving or transferring money obtained from illegal activity. By accepting money that was earned through criminal activity, a person may be charged with laundering money.

Examples of Laundering

Because laundering is defined as receiving or transferring money from illegal activity, the charges are usually combined with other criminal charges.


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