Pennsylvania Money Laundering Laws

Overview of Pennsylvania Money Laundering Laws

Money laundering, known as "dealing in the proceeds of unlawful activities" in Pennsylvania, describes financial transactions used to conceal, disguise, hide, or shield money and other proceeds gained through criminal acts. For an offense to qualify as a criminal act for money laundering, state or federal laws must classify the offense as a first degree misdemeanor or a felony. State and federal laws allow for the prosecution of money laundering offenses to discourage financial gain through crime and to weaken groups engaged in organized crime or racketeering.

The following chart provides additional details about Pennsylvania's money laundering laws.

Statute 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. section 5111
What Constitutes Money Laundering?
  • The defendant knew that the money or other proceeds came from criminal activities and acted intentionally to promote or further those activities.
  • The defendant knew that the money or other proceeds came from criminal activities and understood that the financial transaction would be made to conceal, disguise, or protect those proceeds.
  • The defendant acted to avoid a "transaction reporting requirement" set by state or federal laws.
Penalties 1st degree felony (up to 20 yrs. in prison; fine equal to double the amount stolen, up to $100,000)

Many types of financial transactions may qualify as money laundering in Pennsylvania. In general, financial transactions involve the deposit, movement, or transfer of money and other forms of property. Currency exchanges, gifts, loans, purchases, and sales can also serve as financial transactions for money laundering. The financial transaction may go through a financial institution such as a bank, credit card company, investment bank, loan company, or another type of institution.

Defenses to Money Laundering Charges

  • Lack of knowledge regarding the source or intended purpose of the money
  • Lack of intention to conceal, disguise, or hide money or proceeds
  • Entrapment arranged by police or law enforcement officials

Penalties and Sentences

Pennsylvania state laws include specific penalties and sentences for the offense of money laundering. The state prosecutes money laundering as a first degree felony. A conviction can result in a fine, a term of imprisonment, or both. The court may impose a fine in an amount up to $100,000 or double the total value of the financial transactions involved in the offense. The term of imprisonment may not exceed a sentence of twenty years.

In addition to establishing the criminal penalties, Pennsylvania state laws also allow civil penalties for money laundering. The civil penalty, paid to the state, may equal the value of the financial transaction or require a set fine of $10,000.

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Pennsylvania Criminal Laws Related Resources

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