It’s been almost three years since the public experienced emotional whiplash as it related to the case of Jussie Smollett. The public went from being disgusted by the alleged hate crime against Smollett to being confused and angry when they learned that Smollett may have planned the whole thing.
Three years later, the public has mostly moved on from the incident. But now, the story is back in the public eye as the case has finally made it to trial.
Why did the Smollett case take so long to get to trial, and what charges does Smollett face for his seemingly false accusations?
What Happened? The 2019 Inciting Incident
The public was horrified and outraged when Jussie Smollett shared what he claims to have happened to him on January 29, 2019.
Smollett claimed that around 2 am, he was approached by two men in masks while walking near his apartment in Chicago. He says the men hit him in the face, looped a rope around his neck, and poured bleach on him while yelling racial and homophobic slurs.
Many Americans were disgusted by the awful incident, which was being called a “hate crime.” But, it didn’t take long for people to question the details of the incident.
In the weeks following the incident, both public opinion and officials started to see that the details of Smollett’s story didn’t add up. The story took a major shift when two brothers, who were believed to be the men who attacked Smollett, were interrogated by police.
The brothers stated that Smollett had hired them and concocted the entire plan.
The Current State of the Smollett Case
Smollett is now in court fighting against the claims that he planned the whole thing. He is currently facing six counts of disorderly conduct.
The counts are under a subsection of Illinois law that prohibits false reports to police. Disorderly conduct is a class four felony in Illinois, which is the least serious felony in Illinois. But felonies are still serious, and Smollett is facing prison time of up to three years.
Because Smollett has no prior record and no one was injured as a result of the incident, it is unlikely he will get jail time. Instead, it is more likely he will get probation, community service, or both.
What Are the Six Charges Against Smollett?
Smollett is facing six counts of disorderly conduct. They all stem from similar actions wherein Smollett made false claims to police. Each incident led to an individual charge, as reported by PBS News.
- Count 1: On the day of the alleged attack, Smollett told police officer Muhammed Baig that he was a victim of a hate crime and that two attackers put a rope around his neck.
- Count 2: At the same time, Smollett told Baig that he was a victim of battery and that attackers beat him and poured bleach on him.
- Count 3: On the day of the alleged attack, Smollett told police officer Kimberly Murray that he was a victim of a hate crime and that two attackers put a rope around his neck.
- Count 4: At the same time, Smollett told Kimberly Murray that he was a victim of battery and that attackers beat him and poured bleach on him.
- Count 5: Later on the day of the attack, Smollett again told Murray that he was a victim of battery.
- Count 6: On February 14, 2019, Smollett told police officer Robert Graves that he was the victim of an aggravated battery.
Each count refers to an incident when Smollett allegedly lied to police about what happened to him. He’s facing six counts — although at one time, he was facing 16 counts.
What Happened to the Original 16 Charges Against Smollett?
In February 2019, Smollett was facing 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about the incident.
Those charges were dropped one month later when Cook County prosecutors decided to dismiss the charges after Smollett agreed to forfeit a $10,000 portion of his bond.
Not everyone was happy about this decision.
City officials ordered Smollett to pay $130,000 to cover the costs to investigate the incident. Smollett refused. Then in February 2020, special prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb reopened the case. Smollett was then indicted on the six counts of disorderly conduct he now faces, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
This delay in charges against Smollett combined with courtroom delays due to COVID-19 are why Smollett is just now appearing in court for something that happened almost three years ago.
Bringing a Criminal Defense Case to Trial
Smollett refused to settle the case which is why it is now at trial. Smollett stands by his statement that he was a real victim. Now, he needs to prove it to the jury if he wants to avoid the potential jail time, probation, and community service.
If you are facing criminal charges, it’s important that you speak to a criminal defense attorney right away.
An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and help you devise a plan to lead to the best possible outcome for your situation. If you have been involved in a criminal matter, talk to attorney TJ Grimaldi today. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023.