A grand jury recently indicted 96 people for charges related to fraud and violating U.S. immigration laws. The federal Department of Homeland Security in Houston and other Texas and federal agencies investigated claims that a group was arranging fraudulent marriages in order to subvert immigration laws. Supposedly, there was a group organizing marriages for people looking to gain immigration status or citizenship. Almost 100 people are facing charges and will want to work quickly to understand their federal criminal defense options.

According to government agencies, the person in charge of the alleged scheme had contacts working with her in Texas and in other countries. Fraudulent marriages solely for the purpose of gaining citizenship or entry into the United States is a serious crime, and it is one the federal government prosecutes to the fullest extent of the law. The individuals charged for participation in this scheme are facing serious criminal penalties if convicted.

The people charged with paying for fraudulent marriages supposedly paid a specific amount, with additional amounts charged for certain immigration benefits. For example, the person would pay more if he or she gained entry, and then more if he or she gained permanent resident status. Supposedly, U.S. citizens were also recruited to participate in this scheme.

The stakes are high in cases involving fraud and immigration law. The individuals involved in this case would be wise to work diligently to create an effective federal criminal defense strategy, starting with an assessment of their case. No matter the nature of the case, a person facing criminal charges is presumed innocent unless, and only if, proven guilty in court and beyond a reasonable doubt.