Amber Heard Is Not Going To Go To Jail Following Civil Trial

As the high drama of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial continues, filled with tearful testimony, it can be tough to remember what’s at stake. Is either actor facing potential legal repercussions?

The ongoing spectacle, though, is not a criminal trial. It is a defamation lawsuit unfolding in a civil court. Filed by Depp, the libel claims target his ex-wife Heard over her public presentation as a victim of domestic abuse. 

Following the couple’s divorce in 2016, Heard penned an op-ed for The Washington Post in 2018, which included the line: “Two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse.” 

Following its publication, Depp alleges, his reputation was tarnished, resulting extensive financial losses. Depp says it was around that time that he was cut from two extremely lucrative franchises: Pirates of the Caribbean and the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts. Claiming he was never physically violent with Heard, he is seeking $50 million in damages. 

While on the stand, Depp and other witnesses are also been sharing accounts of physical and verbal abuse by Heard, further complicating the case. (This includes the now infamous claim that Heard defecated in her then-husband’s bed.) However, Heard cannot be charged for any counts of abuse based solely on these testimonies. You cannot go to jail as the result of a civil finding.

Although, if she is later convicted of abuse in a criminal court, she could — technically — be found guilty of perjury, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in Virginia, where the current trial is taking place. But that possibility seems very remote, considering there has been no talk of official accusations by Depp or his team. Not to mention, perjury charges connected to domestic violence cases are particularly rare out of fear of preventing future victims from coming forward. 

Heard is also countersuing Depp for $100 million in damages — but that will be considered in a separate trial, likely to take place later this year. 

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