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Law & the Courts

Smollett Released on Bond after Pleading Not Guilty to Hoax Hate Crime Charges

Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett leaves court after his arraignment on renewed felony charges in Chicago, Ill., February 24, 2020. (Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters)

Former actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty on Monday to new felony charges related to allegations that he paid two acquaintances to stage an attack on him in January of last year.

Smollett, who was charged with a six-count indictment of disorderly conduct for allegedly making false statements to the police about the attack, was released on $20,000 bond. Special prosecutor Dan Webb filed the new charges earlier this month after an investigation that began in August.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Smollett’s lawyers said that they were prepared to go to trial, and implied that the case could be appealed if it did not go their way.

“It’s very frustrating, especially when you see what the law says and you see the actions that were taken that were contrary to the law, so we’re optimistic that the higher court will reverse this,” They said. They added that Smollett’s “primary concern was moving on.”

Last February, Smollett was indicted by a grand jury on sixteen charges, including a felony charge for filing a false police report, after the Chicago police investigated the alleged attack.

Smollett told detectives that two men attacked him as he was walking home late at night, punching him and putting a noose around his neck while shouting, “this is MAGA country,” along with racist and anti-gay slurs. Investigators later determined that Smollett had hired two acquaintances to stage the attack in order to bolster his own career, and that Smollett “directed every aspect of the attack.”

However, Smollett’s charges were then dropped by prosecutors in March.

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” Cook County state’s attorney’s office said in a statement at the time.

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