When an individual faces a money-laundering charge, a prosecutor must prove the defendant carried out three elements. If an individual did not perform all three parts, the charge may not result in a conviction.

Basically, a prosecutor needs to show the court the exact manner in which a defendant participated in a money-laundering scheme. Generally, an individual must have first received a large sum of cash from an illicit activity. This could include proceeds from drug dealing, prostitution or a fraudulent business.

Without evidence that the funds originated from an illegal pursuit, however, a prosecutor may find it difficult to prove his or her case. As noted by the Lexington Herald-Leader, the purpose of money laundering is to disguise illicit profits as legitimate. Convincing a jury that an individual engaged in “washing” money requires substantial proof of the funds coming from an illegal enterprise.

A prosecutor must show all three elements to convict

For a money-laundering charge to result in a conviction, a prosecutor must provide evidence that an individual carried out three different steps.

  1. A placement of cash proceeds: A prosecutor must prove that, after earning cash through an allegedly illegal activity, the individual deposited money into a bank, credit union or financial institution.
  2. Layers of transaction: The cash deposits must go through a series of transactions in and out of the account. This creates an illusion of using the funds for everyday normal business operations.
  3. Cash integrated into revenue: Once an account has moved money around, it moves again, but as a source of income. An individual may, for example, receive large checks appearing as though one of his or her investments paid off.

A charge may not always lead to a conviction or a severe punishment

Money laundering is a felony and a serious offense that results in a federal charge. Individuals faced with federal felony charges may require a strong and complex legal defense to counter a prosecutor’s evidence and allegations. If avoiding a conviction is not possible, however, reducing the severity of a punishment may provide a reasonable alternative.