Amber Heard could face jail over claims she 'edited injury photos' at Johnny Depp trial, legal expert suggests
'I would start worrying about potential criminal ramifications,' one US defamation lawyer said
Amber Heard should "start worrying" about the criminal ramifications of her testimony, a leading defamation lawyer has said, warning that she could face jail time over claims she doctored evidence.
Defamation lawyer Aaron Minc told JOE that "a few days ago" he didn't think there was any chance Heard could face prosecution for anything she had said on the stand during her ex-husband, Johnny Depp's, defamation trial, "I would have told you zero, or less than 1% (chance)." But, after the case proceeded towards its conclusion Friday, he changed his mind.
"I think that, as this case goes on, and we start seeing more and more objective evidence that she is lying about things under oath, that’s when it starts crossing the line into the possibility that she is fabricating evidence, fabricating photos, fabricating bruises, altering evidence and then submitting it," he said.
On Wednesday, digital forensic expert Bryan Neumeister was questioned by Depp's lawyers about the authenticity of photos that appeared to show the Aquaman actor with bruises. Much of Heard's case has focussed on claims she was physically and sexually abused by Depp who is suing her for $50m for a 2018 op-ed she wrote which he believes infers that he abused her. Heard is counter-suing for $100m.
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The metadata expert told the jury at Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia that there was “no way for any forensic expert to validate any of these photos".
When asked whether any photograph in the case was “intentionally modified by Miss Heard”, Neumeister said: “I’m just stating the fact that photographs were modified.”
Speaking about one photo in particular - the first photo of Heard’s alleged injuries shown to the court - Neumeister said there are are “many versions of this photo… dozens of different versions, some with different file sizes, different physical sizes, and some had been through photo-editing software programmes.”
The court was shown three different versions of the photo. “All three of these photos had to go through some type of transformation to change sizes,” Neumeister said.
Minc said fabricating evidence is not only “really serious”, but also “really offensive” to the justice system.
While people lie “all the time” in civil cases, constructing “elaborate hoaxes” and fabricating physical evidence about serious criminal allegations elevates the deceit.
“I would hope that prosecutors would take a close look at it because if there is very clear evidence that she did that, that should certainly be considered,” Minc said.
While not saying there is "conclusive evidence or proof" that Heard fabricated evidence, Minc said, "if it was proven that that was the case, and there’s certainly some questions being raised in the trial currently, that could potentially lead to a criminal prosecution and jail time.”
Legal experts have previously suggested Heard could face a police probe for perjury, after she admitted to not honouring a pledge to donate $3.5million from her divorce settlement win to charity - despite telling the High Court she had.
A person convicted of perjury under federal law could face up to five years in prison and fines. But, as Minc explained, perjury is very hard to prosecute, “because you have to subjectively show that person knew they were lying 100%.”
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