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Fact Check: Is Amber Heard going to jail? Perjury claims explored following her loss in defamation trial against Johnny Depp

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp in the court (Jim Lo Scalzo/AFP/Getty Images)
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp in the court (Jim Lo Scalzo/AFP/Getty Images)
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Abhirup Sengupta

After 52 days of lengthy trial testimonies, cross-questioning, and counter-arguments, the defamation lawsuit between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard ended on June 1. The jurors announced their verdict in favor of Depp, which netted him considerable compensation for damages.

However, many viewers of the trial were confused as to whether Heard could face further legal charges and potential imprisonment. To clarify, this is highly unlikely as the lawsuit was based on defamation claims from both sides, which made it a civil case.

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However, the actress still faces charges in Australia, where she was accused of perjury for her illegal immigration of two dogs into the country in 2015. It has been alleged that the actor lied about importing Depp's two Yorkshire terriers during her testimony in the Australian court.


Amber Heard's perjury claims: Can she end up being convicted?

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The jury unanimously found that all three of Johnny Depp's claims against Amber Heard in his defamation lawsuit to be true after the trial proceedings. They awarded him $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. Meanwhile, the jury also agreed to the second count of Heard's claims, which netted her $2 million in compensatory damage. Technically, both parties won their respective lawsuits against each other, with Johnny securing a much more decisive victory.

To answer the question presented by many Depp supporters, Heard is unlikely to go to prison unless she faces any perjury charges. In their closing arguments, Depp's lawyers insinuated that the Aquaman star had lied in her testimony. However, these were just allegations made by the attorneys during their addressal to the jurors and have to be taken with a grain of salt. Unless it is proven that Heard lied under oath in the courtroom and committed perjury, further legal discourse for these allegations will not be undertaken.

Furthermore, since perjury convictions for civil cases are extremely rare, Heard will not face potential jail time even if she was charged with lying under oath. In case Heard is proven to have committed perjury in the trial, the $2 million compensatory damage she is expected to receive from Depp might get nullified since it would disprove her claims of defamation by her ex-husband's attorney Adam Waldman.

The 36-year-old actress claimed in the trial that her career was affected due to Waldman's statement, which termed Amber Heard's allegations as hoaxes. Thus, in a possible scenario where Heard is charged with perjury, her claims against Waldman will be proven false.


Amber Heard's perjury charges in Australia

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While the legal discourse of the actress in her defamation lawsuit against Depp has ended, she faces perjury charges in Australia. According to local sources, Australia's Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) has reopened the investigation against Heard, who allegedly smuggled two dogs into the country in 2015.

As per Australian norms, foreign pets must be quarantined for ten days. However, at the time, Amber Heard did not declare the dogs during the immigration process. Later, in the courtroom, she claimed that Depp's former assistant was supposed to have arranged for the canines' entry into the country. These claims were backed by a second assistant, Kevin Murphy.

However, Murphy recently revealed that he had lied during his testimony at the time. This casts significant doubt on Amber Heard's honesty during the 2015 trial in the Australian court. If Heard is found guilty of perjury in the Australian High Court, the Texas-native will face a potential sentence of up to 14 years of imprisonment.


Edited by Mohini Banerjee
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