Empire star Jussie Smollett has found himself facing serious legal issues after turning himself in and being arrested on a felony charge for allegedly filing false police report regarding his story of being the victim of a hate crime in Chicago where he claimed the attackers yelled racial and homophobic slurs.
As it turned out, the two suspected attackers knew Smollett and police believe he may have paid them to stage the attack.
Smollett faces a felony charge of disorderly conduct and is set for a bail hearing at 1:30 p.m. local time on Thursday, February 21. Smollett was reportedly taken into custody at approximately 5:00 a.m. CT, according to CNN.
Video released by police shows the initially suspected attackers purchasing items used in the allegedly staged attack.
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Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony). Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury.” surveillance of the Osundairo's buying supplies before "attack" Sources say Jussie Smollet told brothers what to buy. Countless phone calls placed for this. . @cbschicago #lawenforcement #police #thinblueline @cop #cops #policeofficer #jussiesmollett #sheriff. @chicagopolicedepartment #backtheblue
Despite the new development, Smollett’s attorney continues to claim his innocence and denies any role in the attack.
“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked,” his attorneys said in a statement. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
But if Smollett is ultimately convicted of his charge, what punishment will he face?
According to Illinois state law, filing a false police report is punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison. Smollett could also face a fine of $25,000 if it is determined he lied to the Chicago Police Department.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Smollett has been in trouble for lying to authorities either. In 2007, Smollett pleaded no contest to providing false information to the Los Angeles Police during a DUI stop where he told police officers the wrong name. Smollett was sentenced to two years of probation and paid a fine following that incident.