Many people don’t understand what constitutes money laundering in Illinois. This post will serve as a guide to the law, the penalties, and what you can do if you are facing money laundering charges.
How Illinois Law Defines Money Laundering
Money laundering is taking money that has been illegally obtained while also trying to make the money appear to be legitimate.
An example would be a drug dealer exchanging illegitimately earned money through a check cashing service. The money would then look “clean” even though it had been illegally obtained.
Another example may be a secretary stealing a large amount of money from the company account. She would break it up into small deposits for her savings account, so it doesn’t cause her bank to be suspicious.
What Are the Elements of a Money Laundering Charge?
Several elements must all exist for a money laundering conviction to occur. These are the required elements:
- A financial transaction must be made or attempted.
- The financial transaction is made or attempted with money known to be derived from illegitimate sources.
- The individual making the transaction had intent to conceal the illegitimate source of the money.
Keep in mind that all three elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction to occur.
What Are the Degrees of Money Laundering Charges?
Illinois laws designate money laundering as a felony, no matter how small or large the amount of money involved. The penalties are levied according to the total value of the money in the case.
- If the value is $10,000 or less, the charge is a Class 3 felony with a penalty of two to five years in prison.
- If the value is between $10,000 and $100,000, the charge is a Class 2 felony with a sentence of three to seven years in prison.
- If the value is between $100,000 and $500,000, a Class 1 felony applies. The penalty is a four to 15-year prison sentence.
- If the value exceeds $500,000, a Class 1 felony applies with no probation options. A mandatory four to 15-year prison sentence will apply.
In each instance, your property may be seized to make up the difference for the lost money in the case.
What Are Common Defenses to Money Laundering Charges?
Here are the most common defenses your attorney may use in a money laundering case.
- Intent and knowledge were not in place when the alleged crime occurred.
- You may have been falsely accused.
- There may be insufficient evidence to support the charges.
- You may have been forced to commit the crime under threat of harm, otherwise known as duress.
Any of these defenses may apply to your case.
What Can I Do If I’m Facing Money Laundering Charges?
Since a money laundering charge could lead to a felony conviction with serious penalties, it’s essential to call an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney as soon as charges are filed against you.
A skilled lawyer will thoroughly investigate the details of your charges and get to work on building the strongest possible defense for you. At Azhari LLC, we focus first on getting your charges dropped or dismissed.
Schedule a free initial consultation with our experienced team. We’ll work hard to fight your charges and protect your reputation. Call us today to set up your appointment.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.