Australian authorities are investigating a possible perjury offence committed by Amber Heard during a court case in 2016.
Local officers may seek assistance from the FBI as most of the witnesses reside overseas.
The investigation came about after Heard lost a high-profile defamation trial against ex-husband Johnny Depp.
Certain information was disclosed during that trial that raised questions about the truthfulness of the 36-year-old's evidence.
Amber Heard Perjury
The Amber Heard perjury investigation is based on her trip to Australia with Depp in 2015. The actress broke strict quarantine and biosecurity laws by failing to declare the couple's Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, upon her arrival in the country.
Heard was charged with illegally importing animals. She ultimately pleaded guilty to falsifying travel documents in April 2016.
However, in October 2021, Australian police became aware of allegations that she lied under oath about how the dogs were brought into the country.
During Johnny Depp's UK libel case against The Sun newspaper in 2020, the actor's former estate manager, Kevin Murphy, gave evidence that Ms Heard ordered him to lie under oath.
Murphy's written statement set out that he had repeatedly warned the actress about Australia's strict animal entry rules.
"I also explained to Ms. Heard several times the fact that trying to take the dogs into Australia without completing the mandatory process was illegal and could result in very harsh penalties including euthanizing the dogs," he said.
He alleged that when it was revealed publicly that the dogs were in Australia, Heard demanded he provide a false statement saying she didn't know anything about the requirements.
"When I expressed that I was extremely uncomfortable with this, Ms. Heard said to me 'Well I want your help on this . I wouldn't want you to have a problem with your job.'"
The dogs should have been declared to customs and placed in 10-day quarantine. However, their arrival in Australia was only detected after photos of the dogs were posted on Facebook.
Authorities gave the pair 72-hours to send the dogs home or they would be seized and euthanised.
Following negotiations, Ms Heard pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of falsifying an immigration document. She was fined of $10,000.
Her defence lawyer claimed that the paperwork for the dogs had "slipped through the cracks" and that there was "no attempt to deceive".
It was suggested that the actress thought Depp's staff had completed the paperwork. Lawyers claimed that she ticked the wrong box on her arrival card due to exhaustion and sleep deprivation.
What is Perjury?
To prove perjury, the prosecution must establish, beyond reasonable doubt that:
- A person made a false statement; and
- The statement was on oath; and
- The statement was in connection with a judicial proceeding.
The following are defences to perjury:
- Intention: If the person who made the false statement was not aware the statement was false, or did not intend to mislead the court.
- Honest and reasonable mistake: If the false statement was made based on an honest and reasonable mistake.
- The statement was not material to the proceedings: It is a defence if the false statement was not material to the proceeding. This means that the outcome of the case was not affected by the statement.
- Duress: where a person is forced into making a false statement by other people.
Authorities are far better equipped to catch these offences today. This is because advances in technology and the movement to online systems allow tracking of persons.
Despite this there have been a number of recent examples of serious charges being dismissed after an accused retains experienced criminal lawyers. Having experienced fraud lawyers will go a long way towards beating these charges. Call Astor Legal on (02) 7804 2823. Or, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can Amber Heard Be Extradited?
Yes, Amber Heard could be extradited to Australia to face potential perjury charges.
Even if she is not extradited, she could be arrested if she tried to re-enter the country.
Mr Murphy confirmed that he has been contacted by the FBI and had agreed to provide Australian authorities with a witness statement. He declined to comment further.
The perjury investigation against Heard comes just weeks after she was ordered to pay her ex-husband $10.35million in damages after a Virginia court found she defamed the actor by referring to herself as a survivor of domestic abuse in an opinion piece she wrote.
The Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment last week confirmed the case was 'ongoing'. They also confirmed it was still "investigating allegations of perjury by Ms. Heard during court proceedings for the 2015 illegal importation of [her] two dogs into Australia".
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.