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Jussie Smollett Faces Criminal and Civil Trials

It is hard to imagine a guy faking a hate crime attack just so he could get up on stage and call himself “the Gay Tupac,” but that is exactly what Jussie Smollett is accused of doing. Police believe that Smollett paid two African bodybuilders to stage an assault that made national headlines, infuriated activists, and mined the hatred and outrage surrounding recent police murders. However, investigators came to believe that Smollett had staged the attack leading to an investigation that cost the city at least $130,000. Further, he stoked the fires of racial outrage and when it turned out that the police had evidence the hate crime was staged, it made it more difficult for others facing similar assaults to report their crimes.

It is among the most frustrating and infuriating news stories all year. As of the writing of this article, Smollett has been convicted of the charges. Smollett still maintains his innocence. But the matter remains polarizing as several high-profile celebrities continue to support Smollett on the basis that the Chicago police department has a long history of wrongdoing. 

Understanding Double Jeopardy

There are two concepts under the law that are widely misunderstood by average people and provide very little protection to defendants. The first is double jeopardy, the second is entrapment. 

Double jeopardy only prevents a second prosecution by the same jurisdiction. This prevents the same people from filing the same case over and over again after they have lost. However, across jurisdictions, the rule does not apply. For that reason, Smollett could have faced federal charges for staging the crime, but never did. In this case, something else happened.

In order for double jeopardy to apply, a resolved case must have already existed. In this case, the court ruled that the conduct of Kim Foxx in allowing Smollett to resolve the matter based on public humiliation and the forfeiture of $10,000 bond did not constitute a valid prosecution under the law and therefore, did not count toward double jeopardy. However, Smollett has yet to recover his $10,000 bond.

Felony Disorderly Conduct

Some states have specific statutes relating to making false reports. In Illinois, all of these statutes are nestled under disorderly conduct. They include provisions for punishing things like making a bomb threat to a school, phoning in a false fire alarm, or:

“Transmits or causes to be transmitted in any manner to any peace officer, public officer or public employee a report to the effect that an offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed, knowing at the time of the transmission that there is no reasonable ground for believing that the offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed”;

The prosecution will have to prove that Smollett did, in fact, lie about the beating, set up the beating, and orchestrate the entire affair to increase his image. 

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges in the Chicago area, David Freidberg and our defense team will represent you throughout the process, ensure that your rights are respected, and force the prosecution to prove every element of their case. Call today at (312) 560-7100 to set up an appointment and we can begin discussing defense strategy immediately.

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