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EXPLAINER: What charges did Jussie Smollett face during the trial? | Celebrity News

CHICAGO (AP) — The twists and quirks of the legal saga surrounding Jussie Smollett’s 2019 claim that he was the target of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago will culminate Thursday with his conviction. It follows a trial in December that found with a jury convicting Smollett on five counts of disorderly conduct. Smollett was acquitted on a sixth count.

Initial charges filed in February 2019 that accused the former ‘Empire’ actor of faking the assault were dismissed shortly after. But in February 2020, after a special prosecutor looked into the case, a new six-count indictment was filed.

Here’s a rundown of the charges brought by Cook County jurors:

WHAT WERE THE CHARGES AGAINST SMOLLETT?

The 39-year-old was charged under Illinois’ disorderly conduct law, which encompasses a wide range of offenses from prank calls to 911 to harassing calls as a debt collector.

He faced six counts of disorderly conduct under a subsection of the law that prohibits making false reports to police. Some states do not classify false police reports as disorderly conduct.

The charges were listed as Class 4 felonies, which are among the least serious felonies in Illinois. But convictions can still result in a potential jail term of up to three years.

Although Smollett was found guilty on five of the six counts, his lack of a criminal history and the fact that no one was seriously injured makes time behind bars unlikely. A judge is more likely to sentence him to probation and possibly order him to perform community service.

“I would be shocked if he spent a day in jail,” Andrew Weisberg, a Chicago-based criminal attorney and former Cook County prosecutor, said in December.

HOW UNIQUE IS IT FOR SUCH FEES TO BE BORNE?

The Smollett case was certainly unique in the way it involved a star actor and in its sensational claims and counterclaims – first by Smollett, who is black and gay, that he had been attacked, then by the police that he had made it all up.

Although it is one of the biggest cases of disorderly conduct in Illinois history, it is not the only such case to have made headlines.

A Canadian, Robert Spearing, was charged with disorderly conduct in 2011 after Chicago police said he lied about being beaten and stolen tickets to an Oprah Winfrey show. He concocted the story, even going so far as to cut his forehead with a stone, to hide from his wife that he had never had tickets. He pleaded guilty and did not serve time.

Disorderly conduct charges for filing a false police report are not uncommon and are sometimes linked to insurance fraud. Last year, a man from Wheaton, a suburb of Chicago, was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police that he was robbed in a parking lot at gunpoint.

Weisberg says those who lie in initial reports to police are often quick to recant and often go uncharged if they withdraw it immediately. After police accused him of lying, Smollett doubled down and insisted it was all true.

Smollett’s case stands out in that it was tried at all, Weisberg added. In many cases, people accused of lying to police ask for a plea deal or plead guilty without a plea deal.

WHY SIX ACCOUNTS AGAINST SMOLLETT FOR THE SAME INCIDENT?

Each count of disorderly conduct represents one case January 29, 2019, then February 14, 2019in which Smollett allegedly lied to the police.

Count 1 accused him of telling Chicago Police Officer Muhammed Baig at around 2:45 a.m., about 45 minutes after the alleged attack, that he had been the victim of a hate crime. He said two assailants put a rope around his neck. Count 2 referenced Smollett telling the same officer that he had been the victim of a battery, describing assailants beating him and pouring bleach on him.

Counts 3 and 4 stem from Smollett making the same statements but to another officer, Kimberly Murray, later that morning, just before 6 a.m.

Count 5 accuses Smollett of again telling Murray around 7:15 p.m. that he was the victim of a battery.

He was acquitted on Count 6, which referred to Smollett’s February 14, 2019 report to Detective Robert Graves that he had been the victim of aggravated battery.

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To verify Full AP coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.

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