The current defamation case in Virginia between previously married actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has gained worldwide attention. The case is live-streamed daily through several outlets for the public to watch in real-time.
Their divorce was finalized in January 2017, but they continue to litigate marriage-related conflicts. By all accounts, their marriage was tumultuous, and both sides have alleged abuse.
This case is in a Virginia civil court, but could criminal charges result against one or both parties stemming from testimony in the case?
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Domestic Violence And Falsifying Evidence
Prior to their breakup, Depp was accused of repeated episodes of domestic violence against Heard. These alleged episodes included calls to the LAPD to report the violence and later pictures of her bruised face. After filing for divorce, Heard also filed for a restraining order against Depp, requiring him to stay away from and prohibiting contact.
New depositions from responding LAPD officers and bodycam video show a different story. Both officers who responded found no evidence of any violence. No one at the scene would talk to the police officers or give a statement. Without evidence of a crime, one officer handed Heard a business card with resources for domestic violence victims, and both left the penthouse.
Considering this testimony, LAPD is reopening the investigation into the 2016 incident, confirmed by Depp’s longtime lawyer and friend, Adam Waldman. The new evidence indicates that Heard may have faked her injuries to get the restraining order she requested. Should the allegations be proven true, Samantha Greene believes it’s possible that Heard could face felony perjury charges. Under California law the charges could carry as much as four years in prison. Providing false information to law enforcement officers is also a felony.
Heard illegally brought two Teacup Yorkshire dogs into Australia on a private plane during her 2015 visit while married to Depp. Once discovered, the dogs were seized by Australia’s Department of Agriculture after a tip on social media. Because they did not follow the country’s procedures for a 10-day quarantine, she was charged. The DOA gave them 72 hours to remove the dogs from the country, or they would be euthanized.
Heard pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of providing a false immigration document when she entered Australia and was given an AU$1,000 bond and a one-month probation period. She claimed it was a mistake made upon entry and blamed it on jet lag. The pair also made an “apology video” for breaking the country’s biosecurity laws, shown in court. The dogs were returned to California by private jet accompanied by one of the couple’s employees.
Although that case was thought to be concluded, it isn’t. Last October, Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment re-opened the case with allegations from his UK libel trial that Heard asked Depp’s former estate manager, Kevin Murphy, to take the blame for the fiasco. At one point, he alleged Heard suggested he could have “problems with his job” if he didn’t take the blame. The DAWE re-opened the investigation and is working with the FBI to locate witnesses. This could lead to potential perjury charges against Heard in the future.
The Australian Incident
The couple went to Australia for his work on the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film. According to trial testimony, Depp began drinking vodka at the bar in their rented house. At some point, Heard threw two vodka bottles at Depp in succession. The second bottle smashed against a hard surface, sending glass shrapnel flying and cutting off the tip of Depp’s right middle finger.
At the time, Depp claimed that he was responsible for the accidental loss of his own finger, attempting to protect Heard from criminal charges. However, in both the current trial in Virginia and the previous UK libel trial, Depp maintained that Heard was responsible for the accident and his injuries. His account was supported by multiple witnesses.
Again, Samantha Greene believes that Heard could be charged with “assault with a deadly weapon” should Depp decide to eventually press charges. It’s also possible that Depp could face charges for lying to police about how the incident occurred.
The Bed Incident
It’s unthinkable that someone would leave a pile of human feces anywhere, much less in their own marital bed. But in court testimony by one of Depp’s security team, Heard did just that, later admitting that it was a “practical joke gone wrong.” Heard originally claimed that the matter was from Depp’s four-pound Teacup Yorkie dogs, but it was obvious to everyone that the matter was too large to be emitted by the small dogs.
While this isn’t as serious a crime as domestic violence, leaving human feces—or any, for that matter—in a place intended to cause harm could result in vandalism or harassment charges. The conduct is likely a misdemeanor at best but still embarrassing. For a former San Marino mayor who dropped a bag of dog feces on a neighbor’s yard, it led to his resignation, despite apologizing and paying a fine.
Resources For Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can happen to anyone at any time, male or female, regardless of background. It’s important to get help as soon as possible.
Help is available in San Diego. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline—800-799-7233
- YWCA San Diego County, 619-234-3164 (24-hour hotline), located at 1012 C Street,
San Diego, CA 92101, 619-239-0355.
- Center for Community Solutions, 1-888-385-4657, a 24-hour hotline for crisis counseling and support, information on restraining orders, 4508 Mission Bay Dr
San Diego, California 92109-4919. Services in English and Spanish, and includes services provided via telehealth.