Individuals who channel funds from unlawful activities to legitimate enterprises can be charged with the offense of money laundering. For instance, a drug trafficker takes "dirty" money from the drugs sales and "cleans" the money by investing in a lawful business such as a nail salon. In Virginia, the money laundering statute has two subsections that coordinate with the two separate instances of money laundering violations in the state: Subsection A involves financial transactions; subsection B involves cash conversions.
Section A Violation: Financial Transaction
Section A prohibits an individual from conducting a financial transaction with knowledge that the property involved in the transaction comes from the proceeds of a felony or felonious activity. The kind of transaction that violates the statute is one in which the individual has an intent to hide or disguise aspects of the transaction such as the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of the property, or to prevent the transaction from being reported under state or federal law.
Section B Violation: Cash Conversion Violation
Under Section B, it's illegal for an individual to receive compensation for the conversion of cash into negotiable instruments or electronic funds with knowledge that the cash derived from the proceeds of a felony.
Virginia Money Laundering Laws at a Glance
While it's important to know the detailed wording of a statute, it's also helpful to refer to basic terminology to illustrate how the law functions. See the chart below for an overview of Virginia's money laundering laws.
The actual penalties are contingent on the specific circumstances of the case. The following are general guidelines determined by the statute.
Penalties for Section A Violations:
- Punishable by imprisonment not to exceed 40 years and/or a fine up to $500,000.
Penalties for Section B Violations:
- A first violation of Section B is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Any second or subsequent violation is classified a Class 6 felony, punishable by incarceration not to exceed 5 years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court, confinement in jail for no more than 12 months and/or a fine not exceeding $2,500.
- Lack of intent
- Lack of knowledge: Defendant was unaware that the money received was obtained illegally.
- Racketeering: Va. Code Ann. Section 18.2-51
- Prostitution, human trafficking: Va. Code Ann. Section 18.2-355
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Virginia Money Laundering Laws: Related Resources
Need Help with Money Laundering Charges? Consult with an Attorney
If you're accused of violating Virginia's money laundering laws under a purported financial transaction or by a cash conversion, then you should have experienced counsel as your advocate. Consult with a Virginia criminal defense attorney near you immediately.