CHICAGO (AP) — Actor Jussie Smollett is due back in court Thursday, where he will hear whether a judge will order him locked up for his conviction for lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack he orchestrated himself or allow him to remain free.
Smollett, who is expected to continue to deny his role in the staged attack in January 2019, faces up to three years in prison on each of five counts of disorderly conduct – the charge filed for lying to police – of which he was found guilty. He was acquitted on a sixth count.
But because Smollett does not have an extensive criminal history and the conviction is for a low-level, non-violent crime, experts do not expect him to be sent to prison. The actor could be sentenced to serve up to a year in prison or, if the judge wishes, be placed on probation and ordered to perform some sort of community service.
Smollett’s lead attorney said he would ask the judge to dismiss the charges. But judges rarely grant such requests. It means this could be the latest chapter in an appealable criminal case that made international headlines when the black and openly gay Smollett reported to police that two men wearing ski masks killed him. had beaten and hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him on a dark Chicago Street and fled.
In December, Smollett was found guilty in a trial that included testimony from two brothers who told jurors that Smollett paid them to carry out the attack, gave them money for ski masks and rope, asked them to shape the rope into a noose, then told them to tell them exactly what to shout when they carried out the fake attack.
Smollett, who knew the men from his work on the Chicago-shot television show “Empire,” testified that he didn’t recognize them and didn’t know they were the men who were attacking. Smollett will get a chance to talk to the judge and he could repeat some of the things he told jurors during the trial about him simply being the victim of a violent crime.
Smollett could tell the judge as he told jurors about his long history of volunteering and donating to charitable causes. He could also say that the fact that the case left his career in shambles is enough punishment to save him from police custody.
Check out the AP’s full coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.