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What would happen to Amber Heard if Johnny Depp wins the trial

Here’s what would happen to Amber Heard if the jury rules in Johnny Depp’s favor and she is proven to have defamed him.

The Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial is coming to its end. The actor is suing his ex-wife for defamation following a text she published in The Washington Post in 2018. And while he alleges that said article cost him multiple projects and hurt his career, she claims that the piece was not about him (in fact she doesn’t mention him by name at any point) but about her as a survivor of domestic violence.

There are those who claim that she has the upper hand because of this detail; however, Depp has denied the accusations on every occasion and has assured that it was his ex who exercised violence against him.

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You might find interesting: Why Johnny Depp has already won regardless of the jury’s verdict

Now, what would happen if Johnny Depp wins this lawsuit? Here’s what Amber Heard would have to do to compensate her ex-husband if it is determined that she did, indeed, defame him.

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The jury is still to decide whether Amber Heard harmed Johnny Depp’s career. If so, she would have to pay the $50 million he is demanding by way of compensation. However, the same jury could change that figure to be higher or lower, depending on its recommendations.

Could Amber Heard go to prison?

Contrary to what the public opinion tends to think regarding the Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard issue, the actor’s ex-wife would not go to prison even if he wins the case. This is a civil case, not a criminal case: neither Depp nor Heard is being indicted on criminal charges, even if in their statements they have described facts that qualify as such.

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In Virginia, United States, where the trial is taking place, a civil case is one in which one person or entity accuses another of some tortious act. Each lawsuit represents a civil case. If the plaintiff succeeds in proving that the defendant caused him or her injury or harm, the defendant usually receives compensation: in the case of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, she would pay him $50 million.

Another difference between a civil case and a criminal case that must be taken into account in the Depp vs Heard case is in the evidence: while in a criminal case it must be proven that the defendant is guilty beyond doubt, in a civil case it is up to the jury to decide which of the two parties is more plausible.

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We could expect more defamation suits

On the other hand, beyond the economic compensation that Amber Heard would have to give to Johnny Depp, there are experts who assure that this case could influence other cases of violence against women. Those who are accused of violence could resort, more frequently, to sue their ex-partners for defamation.

As Michelle Goldberg explains in The New York Times, “If Depp prevails in some way, we can expect similar lawsuits against other women who claim to be survivors of abuse. Singer Marilyn Manson has already filed a defamation suit against his ex-fiancee Evan Rachel Wood, one of several women who have accused him of sexual violence.”

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Goldberg explains that even if Depp didn’t win in court, he already got his point across: “In an email sent to his former agent, Christian Carino, Depp wrote that Heard was ‘screaming for global humiliation.’ Now her televised trial has resulted in an explosion of hatred for her.”

This legal battle, which began last April 11, comes to an end this Friday, May 27, and, if the jury conducts the proceedings in a timely manner, there could be a verdict on May 30. The time could be extended if the jury considers that there is still evidence to be analyzed.

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Story originally published in Cultura Colectiva in Spanish

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