In Ratzlaf v. United States, 510 U.S. 135, 147 (1994), the Supreme Court held that "to give effect to the statutory 'willfulness' specification [in 31 U.S.C. § 5322], the government [must] prove [that the defendant] knew that the structuring he undertook was unlawful." In other words, the government must prove, as an element of its structuring case, that the defendant knew "not only of the bank's duty to report cash transactions in excess of $10,000, but also of his duty not to avoid triggering such a report." In a direct response to Ratzlaf, Congress amended 31 U.S.C. § 5324 by deleting the statutory "willfulness" requirement. Under this "Ratzlaf fix" it is only necessary to prove that the defendant acted for the purpose of evading the reporting requirements. This statute took effect on September 23, 1994. Pattern instructions have been published by the First (No. 4.28), Fifth (No. 2.99), Seventh, and Eleventh (No. 98) Circuits that reflect the 1994 corrective legislation.
Updated December 18, 2015