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A federal criminal indictment is no minor event. Title 18 of the U.S. Code contains the majority of the criminal statutes. And likely you do not want to find out which one of the thousands of section of Title 18 that you have been charged with violating. But as they say on TV, "Wait, there's more." There are many, many sections of the federal statues and agency regulations, a violation of which can bring about a federal prosecution.

In fact, there are so many statutory and regulatory laws out there, that no one really knows with any precision how many potential criminal violations lurk within the U. S. Code and the Code of Federal Regulations, but it may be more than 35,000.

But it only takes one. Many of them may be somewhat "unexpected." The Dennis Hastert indictment highlights the less than intuitive nature of some of these charges. Hastert has been charged with violations of the Banking laws that prohibit what is known as "structuring." These laws were originally drafted to prevent organized crime and drug dealers from laundering money by passing it through banks below the threshold of the bank reporting laws.

Banks must report transactions involving more than $10,000. Individuals attempt to evade this reporting feature by structuring their transactions to keep them just below the $10k limit. This is what Hastert has been formally charged with, and not the more salacious allegations that he was making the withdrawals to pay hush money to an individual whom he sexually abused when he was coach of a high school wrestling team.

He is also charged with false statements to federal investigators. This charge is a very real threat to any individual who is faced with a federal inquiry, whether they be from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or often, the Internal Revenue Service.

Which is why, no matter what the purpose, anytime you are part of a federal investigation, even if you are ancillary to the investigation and not a target, it may pay to have your own attorney present.

Source: nytimes.com, "Details About the Indictment of Dennis Hastert," Julie Bosman, June 9, 2015

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