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Is money laundering a federal or state crime?

There are often different roads that may be traveled in order to reach the same destination. St. Louis residents might choose one path over another, even if the underlying goal is the same between the two.

In the criminal justice system, there are also different paths that may be taken by law enforcement and prosecutors when it comes to prosecuting individuals for alleged crimes. Different charges may be alleged based on virtually the same conduct, although the charges can carry different elements and different penalties that are associated with the charges upon a conviction.

For example, last week, this blog discussed federal charges of money laundering. These federal charges are serious allegations of white collar crime, with serious penalties associated with the charges.

However, it is important to understand that other charges can be brought for the same or similar conduct under Missouri law, apart from the federal charges. Under Missouri law, it is illegal to conduct transactions involving the physical transfer of currency from one person to another with the purpose of carrying on criminal activity.

Missouri law also prohibits a person from conducting transactions involving the transfer of currency with the purpose of concealing or disguising the source of the proceeds of criminal activity. It is illegal to conduct currency transactions to avoid reporting requirements under federal law. Finally, Missouri law makes it illegal to conduct currency transactions to carry on criminal activity for the purpose of making a terrorist threat or act.

All of the above situations are defined as money laundering under Missouri law. The statute indicates that money laundering is classified as a class B felony.

Source: Missouri Revised Statutes, "Section 574.105.2," accessed on Mar. 7, 2015

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