Money Laundering in Illinois is a felony offense that can carry with it substantial prison time if convicted. The statute codifying the offense is 720 ILCS 5/29 B. The most prevalent theory pursued against individuals is found in section 1.5 which states the elements of the crime are:
1. That the defendant knowingly engaged or attempted to engage in a financial transaction; and
2. When the defendant did so he knew the transaction was designed in part to conceal the source or control of the criminally derived property.
It sounds very confusing when first read. However, it puts a very high burden of proof on the State in order to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Unless the client confesses to the elements, it is a tenuous, and probably unprovable charge. All aspects of the initial traffic stop, prolonged detention prior to vehicle search, and the constitutional rights afforded each citizen under the 4th and 14th amendments come into play in these charges. Many times the police and State will presume facts they don't have proof of. For instance, if a person is stopped with $50,000 in the trunk of their car which is discovered during a search, the police may presume it came from illicit gains. If the defendant "clams up" and says he wants his attorney the State will never be able to prove where the money came from. In such a case proving beyond a reasonable doubt the money was obtained through illicit means is an impossibility.
Defending these charges require vigilance by the defense team to obtain all discovery that exists and file all motions for sanctions and to suppress evidence unconstitutionally gained. Again, these cases are most likely won during the motions stage, just like cannabis trafficking cases.