Jussie Smollett's Conviction Upheld by Appeals Court

Smollett claimed he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in 2019.

An Illinois appeals court upheld the disorderly conduct conviction of actor Jussie Smollett, who was found to have made false reports to the Chicago Police Department in claiming to be the victim of a hate crime. 

Smollett faced six counts of disorderly conduct in January 2019 for providing false reports to the Chicago Police Department claiming he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack. Indicted in 2020 by a special grand jury, Smollett has since attempted to have the indictments dismissed.

On Friday (Dec. 1), per CNN, the court affirmed the guilty verdict on five out of six felony counts of disorderly conduct. Smollett was sentenced in March 2022 to 30 months of felony probation, including 150 days in jail, and ordered to pay restitution of over $120,000 plus a $25,000 fine.

Despite the conviction, Smollett was released from jail after only six days, as an appeals court granted an emergency motion to delay his sentence and grant bail pending the resolution of their appeal. 

In his appeal, the “Empire” actor claimed double jeopardy, argued that prosecutors violated his due process rights, contested the appointment of a special prosecutor and argued that his sentence was excessive. CNN reported that as part of the appeal, Smollett’s attorneys requested he get a new trial with a different judge.

The court dismissed challenges to the special prosecutor on procedural grounds, stating it lacked jurisdiction over the appointment. It also rejected Smollett's claim of double jeopardy, stating that the state's decision not to move forward with charges did not constitute a final disposition. 

"Therefore, the State was not barred from re-prosecuting Smollett. After the nolle prosequi [unwillingness to prosecute] was entered, Smollett was free to go without entering into a recognizance to appear at any other time, which is the bargain Smollett made," the court stated.

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