Understanding Criminal Charges and the Outcome Of The Jussie Smollett Case
The moment the clock struck noon on March 26, 2019, the news was released. Actor Jussie Smollett is now a free man. The prosecutor for the City of Chicago has dropped any and all charges against him. The charges stemmed from an original “attack” suffered that was labeled a hate crime. Jussie Smollett was not the perpetrator of the crime. He was the victim. Yet he was arrested and charged with 16 counts of criminal activity. Then, less than a month later, these charges are dropped, and Jussie Smollett is a free man.
The Criminal Charges
In order to understand the outcome, it is important to first understand the charges. According to the original indictment, Mr. Smollett orchestrated the entire attack and paid the men to attack him. As a result, Mr. Smollett was charged with sixteen felony counts of disorderly conduct for falsely reporting a hate crime. In the same breath, the “attackers” were released after being held for 48 hours with no charges filed against them.
The issue here is that Mr. Smollett’s case utilized valuable police resources and hours to investigate an attack that never really happened. Yes, he was injured. Yes, he was attacked. However, his attackers were people he hired to attack him. Since he hired them to attack him and not another person, they did not commit a crime. Yet, by him choosing to report the incident, he had, in fact, committed a crime of endangering people and unnecessarily tying up valuable protective resources.
During the time of the original indictment and the dismissal of the case, Mr. Smollett was held in prison and $100,000 bail was produced for his release. Mr. Smollett required special permissions to travel outside of Chicago in order to be within the confines of his release. In addition, Mr. Smollett had appeared in court to plea not guilty and turn himself in prior to paying his bail. Then, on March 26, 2019, the Chicago Prosecutor and the judge assigned to the case dismissed the charges against Mr. Smollett.
The key is that the charges were dismissed, not erased. He was not exonerated of any wrong doing. Instead, the Judge felt that Mr. Smollett had served a little time in jail already and forfeited his bail, which is money meant to be returned to the Defendant once he appears in court for his trial. In doing so, the Judge felt as though Mr. Smollett had paid for his crime and the District Attorney would Nolle Prosequi the case; which is a fancy legal term for no contest and not prosecuted. This is not a disposition of innocent or not guilty. It is simply a disposition basically stating what is done is done and all is forgiven today.
Criminal Case Points
This case brings about some very important points. First, it is certainly a crime to file a false police report. In many states, this is a felony, especially when the crime is that of special circumstances such as a hate crime.
Second, paying a person to orchestrate a crime against others makes both parties guilty. Paying a person to orchestrate a crime in which you, the payor, are the only victim may only result in the payor being the only guilty party.
Third, charges being dismissed does not mean a person is not guilty or innocent. The District Attorney in Chicago determined that qualified first time offenders should have a second chance and she gave Jussie an informal version of what is referred to in Mecklenburg and many other counties in North Carolina as deferred prosecution. This is a program where the accused Defendant is afforded the opportunity to work their way to a dismissal of charges after completing requirements such as restitution, substance abuse assessment or counselling. Typically, it is helpful to have proper representation when dealing with these kinds of actions to obtain the best outcome in accordance with the law. If you are in trouble with the law and need someone who understands the laws and can help you obtain the best outcome, contact the attorneys at Baucom, Claytor, Benton, Morgan & Wood, P.A. at 704-376-6527 today.