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What charges is Jussie Smollett facing in hate crime hoax trial?

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The jury in Jussie Smollett’s trial will continue deliberations on Thursday as they attempt to reach a verdict on his charges in the alleged hate crime hoax. 

The former “Empire” star’s fate is in the hands of the jury after almost two weeks of court proceedings in a case that’s seen many twists and turns since it first broke in January 2019. He faces six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to the police.

Initial charges brought in February 2019 that accused the former “Empire” actor of faking the assault were soon after tossed. But in February 2020, after a special prosecutor looked into the case, a new six-count indictment was filed. 

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

Actor Jussie Smollett may have trouble getting his career back after his trial verdict. 
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

His charges fall under a subsection of the law that prohibits false reports to police. Some states don’t categorize false police reports as disorderly conduct.

Smollett is accused of orchestrating a fake hate crime against himself near his apartment in Chicago. At roughly 2 a.m. on the night in question, Smollett was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop when he says two men attacked him while yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him. However, police determined that the two men were Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, who Smollett knew from working with them on “Empire.” 

The brothers testified that Smollett paid and instructed them on how he wanted them to carry out the attack, but he denies ever working with them on anything but personal fitness training.

Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, day seven of his trial in Chicago. 
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The charges are listed as class 4 felonies, which are among the least serious felonies in Illinois. But convictions can still carry potential prison time of up to three years. If jurors convict Smollett, his lack of criminal history and the fact that no one was seriously hurt make actual time behind bars unlikely. It’s more likely that a judge would sentence him to probation and perhaps order him to perform community service.

However, given Smollett’s decision to testify on the witness stand under oath, if he is found guilty, a legal expert previously told Fox News Digital that the judge may decide on a harsher punishment for lying to the jury on the stand. 

Special Prosecutor Dan Webb noted at trial that the reason Smollett faces six counts of disorderly conduct has to do with the fact that he allegedly lied to police during different interviews. 

Count 1 accuses him of telling responding Chicago Police Officer Muhammed Baig at around 2:45 a.m., some 45 minutes after the purported attack, that he was the victim of a hate crime. He said two attackers put a rope around his neck. Count 2 refers to Smollett telling the same officer he was a victim of a battery, describing attackers beating and pouring bleach on him.

In this courtroom sketch, special prosecutor Dan Webb, left, cross examines actor Jussie Smollett Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Chicago.
(AP Photo/Cheryl Cook)

Counts 3 and 4 are when Smollett made the same claims but to a different officer, Kimberly Murray, later that morning, at just before 6 a.m.

Count 5 accuses Smollett of again telling Murray at around 7:15 p.m. that he was the victim of a battery. Count 6 refers to Smollett reporting on Feb. 14, 2019, to detective Robert Graves that he’d been a victim of an aggravated battery.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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