Forget reality TV drama — Teresa and Joe Giudice are currently dealing with far more serious problems. The Real Housewives of New Jersey couple has been charged with 41 counts of federal fraud, and have pleaded guilty to some of the charges. They could each be facing jail time. 

So, you wonder, what's this case about, and how did it all unfold? This timeline of the lawsuit should help you navigate this ongoing story.

2001-2008

Teresa and Joe allegedly defrauded banks and the IRS over this period of time.

2009

The Giudices file for Chapter 7 (AKA bankruptcy).

July 29, 2013

— U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announces Teresa and Joe's 39-count indictment, which includes charges of bank fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Why? They allegedly obtained mortgages and other loans by intentionally overestimating their income, which is illegal. They also allegedly withheld info about their net worth when filing for Chapter 7 in 2009, and Joe is accused of failing to file tax returns in 2004-2008. All told, Teresa and Joe could be facing up to 50 years of jail time if they are found guilty on all counts.

— Teresa speaks out about the charges on the same day this news broke, saying, "I am hopeful that we will resolve this matter with the government as quickly as possible." Her lawyer also announces that Teresa plans to plead not guilty.

July 30, 2013

— Teresa and Joe go to court to address the charges. The pair surrender to the federal government and are released on a $500k bond each. They are required to surrender their passports and are not allowed to leave New York or New Jersey without approval. Joe, who is not an American citizen, is also subject to random drug tests.

— Joe gets a little physical with a camera going into court, and Teresa refuses to talk to reporters after leaving court, but her lawyer praises her strength through this ordeal, and calls the suit tough on everyone, including the Giudice girls.

July 31, 2013

— Teresa's lawyer blames her fame for the lawsuit, explaining that he thinks the Giudices are being targeted due to their high profile. On the same day, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman declares he is confident Teresa and Joe will be convicted.

Teresa attends the Beauty Buster Awards hosted by Lora Condon and appears in "good spirits."

August 5, 2013

Reports come out that Teresa thinks Joe will "take the fall" if it becomes necessary. Sources says that the Attorney's Office is intent on making both husband and wife serve jail time.

August 10, 2013

Teresa heads to Florida on judge approved trip.

August 14, 2013

Teresa and Joe's arraignment. They both plead not guilty to all charges. Their trial is set for October 8, 2013.

August 19, 2013

Reports emerge that the prosecutors asked Bravo for unaired RHONJ footage that could help their case.

September 6, 2013

Teresa and Joe's court date is moved to February 14, 2014.

October 6, 2013

Teresa and Joe appear on the Real Housewives of New Jersey Season 5 reunion show. A body language expert says their attempts at good cheer masked deep fear.

October 13, 2013

The second half of the reunion aired, and we got some insight into Teresa's feelings on how this lawsuit has affected her life.

Fall, 2013

- Joe and Teresa continue to go about their lives, attending charity events, celebrating their anniversary and generally staying as positive as possible.

- Teresa reveals that Gia is the only one of her kids who has any idea what's going on.

November 18, 2013

Teresa and Joe are indicted on two more charges, one for bank fraud and one for loan application fraud.

November 20, 2013

Teresa and Joe have arraignment about the new charges, plead not guilty

January, 2014

Reports emerge that Joe wants a separate trial from Teresa to help protect her. He claims that she did not know what was going on. However, federal prosecutors are doing their best to stop that from happening.

February, 2014 

Teresa's lawyers demand the government provide more details about the allegations against her.

March 4, 2014

Teresa and Joe plead guilty to multiple charges of fraud. Sentencing will come at a later date. Joe could spend three two four years in prison. Teresa is expected to spend less than two years in prison, and is hoping to serve under house arrest instead

July 8, 2014

Joe and Teresa's sentencing date.

Rebecca Martin is an Associate Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and genre TV expert. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!