If an immigration attorney finds during the course of his representation that his client is perpetuating a fraud what are his duties/responsibilities and to whom? Is there a duty to report it? Can the attorney report it if they wish or is there a duty to the client not to report it? Must they withdraw from the representation?
The fraud is a marriage fraud. They initially claimed to be residing together but through the course of representation it has become clear they do not and that their marriage is a "sham."
The attorney cannot be a party to perpetrating the fraud. Ethically, the attorney must withdraw from representation. The attorney would not be able to disclose the reason for his withdrawal as it would be prejudicial to his client. Even if the client admits the fraud to the attorney, the attorney cannot disclose it as the discussion is protected by the attorney/client privilege.
That being said, just because a married couple does not reside together does not mean the marriage is a sham. Of course if they never intended to spend the rest of their lives together then the marriage is a sham from its inception.
Withdraw from the matter immediately and inform your client of civil and criminal punishments they will face as a result of their fraud. There is no duty to report as long as attorney withdraws once fraud is discovered and does not participate/assist in commission of crime. Good luck!.
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