As most Real Housewives of New Jersey fans are aware, stars Teresa and Joe Giudice have been charged with 41 counts of fraud and other financial crimes; charges that could add up to 50 years in prison apiece if they are found guilty. Although the couple isn't set to stand trial until April, there are still legal questions to settle between then and now. The latest issue? Whether or not the couple can have separate trials.

As we'd previously reported, earlier in January Joe and Teresa requested that they be granted separate trials. Their argument is that Teresa lacked any knowledge of the criminal activity the couple has been accused of. If they are forced to stand trial together, she will not be able to defend herself, and Joe will not be able to present evidence in her favor without potentially incriminating himself.

Joe claims to have evidence that Teresa is innocent, and presumably Teresa would like to take the witness stand to confirm that she didn't know what was going on. However, if the couple has a joint trial, they can't take the stand without having to answer questions about Joe's activity, too. If they have separate trials, Teresa and Joe can both make statements during Teresa's trial, while both remaining mum during Joe's, since a married person cannot be compelled to testify against their spouse, and obviously a person under accusation is allowed to plead the fifth rather than testify against themselves.

Unfortunately for the Giudices, on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 federal prosecutors filed a 37-page legal brief in an attempt to stop the separate trials reports NorthJersey.com. The prosecutors' claim is that while Joe's right not to testify against himself is fundamental, he has has not given enough evidence to justify a separate trial that his testimony would actually help clear Teresa. Furthermore, they claim that Teresa's right not to testify against her husband is not fundamental, and does not in and of itself justify separate trials.

As of right now, the Giudices are set to appear in court together on April 14, 2014. We'll keep you updated on how this situation plays out.

Source: NorthJersey.com

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+!