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When Can Money Laundering Result in State or Federal Criminal Charges?

 Posted on April 06, 2022 in White Collar Crimes

b2ap3_thumbnail_att-nicole.jpgBy: Attorney Nicole Masnica

When law enforcement officials perform investigations into criminal activity, they will often “follow the money.” If a person is found in possession of significant amounts of cash, makes large deposits into a bank account, or otherwise receives large sums of money without a good explanation, this may be seen as an indication that they have engaged in crimes such as drug trafficking. At the same time, it is illegal to take measures to conceal the source of money that was obtained illegally, and there are a variety of actions that may lead to money laundering charges. These charges may be pursued at either the state or the federal level, and those who are charged with this type of offense will need to understand the specific laws that address money laundering.

Money Laundering Offenses in Wisconsin

Wis. Stat. § 943.895 details offenses related to money laundering and the potential penalties for a conviction. These charges may apply if a person:

  • Receives money or other property that they know was gained through illegal activity or otherwise conducts transactions involving illegally-obtained money or items

  • Organizes, directs, or supervises a scheme involving the transportation or transfer of money or property that was obtained illegally

  • Gives, sells, or transfers money or property to someone else with the knowledge that this will promote unlawful activity

  • Conducts transactions that are meant to conceal the source, location, or control of money or property that was obtained illegally

  • Attempts to conceal transactions involving illegally-obtained proceeds with the intent of avoiding federal reporting requirements

For money laundering involving proceeds of $2,500 or less, a person may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Transactions involving more than $2,500 may result in felony charges, starting with a Class I felony and increasing to more serious penalties at higher amounts. 

Federal Money Laundering Charges

18 U.S. Code § 1956 details money laundering offenses that may be prosecuted by the federal government. These offenses are similar to money laundering as defined in Wisconsin law, and they may involve financial transactions that are intended to promote illegal activity, to disguise the source of money or property, to avoid transaction reporting requirements, or to commit tax evasion. However, federal charges will usually only apply in cases involving offenses that affected people in multiple states or involved interstate or international commerce. These may include:

  • Drug trafficking, including manufacturing, importing, distributing, and selling controlled substances

  • Counterfeiting

  • Fraud and other white collar crimes (including mail fraud, wire fraud, or identity theft)

  • Human trafficking

  • Bribery and extortion

  • Smuggling

A conviction on federal money laundering charges may result in a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. In some cases, a person may also be required to pay fines of up to $500,000 or double the amount of money involved in an illegal transaction.

Contact Our Milwaukee Money Laundering Attorneys

Accusations of money laundering can be very serious, and whether a person faces charges at the state or federal level, they will need a strong legal advocate to help them determine their options for defense. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, we have experience defending clients in these cases, and we can help you understand the steps you can take to protect your rights. Contact our Milwaukee, WI white collar crime defense lawyers at 414-271-1440 to set up a confidential consultation and get the legal representation you need.



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