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Illinois Money Laundering Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Money laundering may seem like a complex law that's used to prosecute drug kingpins and gangsters. However, if you make money in an illegal manner, such as selling bootleg movies or through illegal gambling, you break the law each time you spend that money.

Money laundering is simply the act of taking illegally obtained money and making it appear as if it was from a legitimate source. As you'll soon learn, Illinois has tough laws prohibiting money laundering.

Elements of Money Laundering in Illinois

Money Laundering is a complex and fact-specific crime. State prosecutors need to prove each element of the government's case beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction. A person violates Illinois' money laundering law in the following manner:

  1. They make or try to make a financial transaction, such as buying a TV, paying a phone bill, or depositing the money in a bank account;
  2. For this transaction, they use or attempt to use money that they know is from criminally derived origins; and
  3. At the time, the defendant knew the transaction was designed in part to conceal the source of the criminally derived property.

Different Degrees of Money Laundering Charges

In Illinois, laundering money is always considered a felony. Penalties can include hefty fines of up to $25,000 and prison sentences between two and 15 years. The greater the value of the money involved, the more severe the punishment. The government can also seize your property in forfeiture to make up for the cash that was laundered.

Common Money Laundering Defense

A money laundering conviction requires solid evidence that the defendant intended to commit a crime and understood the outcome of their actions. For example, if the defendant was an accountant and is accused of investing illegal funds, it could be argued that the defendant didn't know the money was from an illegal source and had no intent to conceal illegally obtained money. The following are a few common strategies for a legal defense in money laundering cases:

  • Lack of criminal intent
  • Duress, being forced to commit the crime
  • Mistake
  • No evidence that money was derived from a crime

Overview of Illinois Money Laundering Laws

Below you will find key provisions of Illinois's money laundering laws.

Illinois Statute
Money Laundering Penalties Value up to $10,000:
  • Class 3 felony
  • Punishable by a up to 2 to 5 years in prison
More than $10,000 up to $100,000:
  • Class 2 felony
  • Punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison
More than $100,000 up to $500,000:
  • Class 1 felony
  • Punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison
Value is more than $500,000:
  • Class 1 non-probationable felony
  • Punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison

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.

Illinois Money Laundering Laws: Additional Resources

Get Help With Your Money Laundering Case in Illinois

Money laundering is a complex crime with severe penalties for those convicted. If you're facing criminal charges, you'll want to protect your reputation, assets, and your future. Contact a criminal defense attorney to learn more about how the law applies to the facts of your case.

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