While each state has its own definition of money laundering, it's generally defined as transferring money that's been derived from a criminal activity to make it appear as though it's been earned through legitimate means. Common criminal activities in which money laundering can occur are drug transactions, activities linked to terrorism, and organized crime. As with most states, Washington considers money laundering to be a serious crime.
Washington Money Laundering Laws: Definitions
First and foremost, it's important to understand that in order to violate Washington's money laundering laws, a person must have knowledge that the property they're transferring was obtained illegally. For example, a person who receives a gift without any knowledge that the gift was bought with money that was laundered wouldn't be in violation of Washington money laundering laws.
In order to better understand Washington money laundering laws, you'll need to know definitions of the following key terms:
- Financial transaction: any sale, purchase, gift, transfer, loan, trade, deposit, withdrawal, extension of credit, or any other acquisition or disposition of property.
- Conducting a financial transaction: initiating, concluding, or participating in a financial transaction.
- Specified unlawful activity: an offense that's classified as a Class A or B felony in Washington, an offense listed as "criminal profiteering," or an offense in another state or federal jurisdiction that's punishable by more than one year in prison.
Washington Money Laundering Laws: An Overview
When you have a question about the law, the best place to look is the law itself. But statutes are usually written in language and in a manner that can take time to decipher. To cut down on the time it takes to find an answer to your question, it can help to read a summary of the law without all the legal jargon. In the following chart, you can find links to relevant statutes as well as an overview on Washington money laundering laws.
Washington Revised Code:
It's illegal for a person to conduct (or attempt to conduct) a financial transaction that involves the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity and who knows that:
- The property is the result of specified unlawful activity;
- The transaction is designed to conceal or disguise the nature, source, ownership, or control of the proceeds, and acts recklessly as to whether the property is the result of specified unlawful activity; or
- The transaction is designed to avoid a transaction reporting requirement under federal law.
|Charges and Penalties
Money laundering is a Class B felony punishable by a maximum prison term of 10 years and/or a maximum fine of $20,000.
Violation of Washington money laundering laws will also result in a civil penalty for twice the value of the proceeds involved in the financial transaction as well as the costs of the suit.
Washington Revised Code Section 9A.82.001, et seq. (Criminal Profiteering Act)
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.
Washington Money Laundering Laws: Related Resources
If you'd like more information and resources related to this topic, you can visit the links listed below.
Questions About Washington Money Laundering Laws? Ask a Lawyer
Money laundering is a serious crime in Washington that can not only result in prison time, but also significant fines and civil penalties. However, don't forget that the government has the sole burden to prove all elements of its case, including intent. If you've been arrested for violating Washington money laundering laws, or have questions about a particular transaction, it's a good idea to speak with a local criminal defense attorney who can give you guidance and represent you in court, if necessary.