Jussie Smollett guilty: What’s next for the former ‘Empire’ star?

Entertainment

Actor Jussie Smollett, right, departs the Leighton Criminal Courthouse Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, with his mother, Janet, after Cook County Judge James Linn gave the case to the jury in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett now faces sentencing after a jury convicted him on five felony counts of disorderly conduct in connection with a fake hate crime attack, with legal experts divided on whether the actor will spend time behind bars.

“I want jail time for what he did,” criminal defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh said on “Dan Abram Live” on Wednesday. “Every future victim who’s going to be scrutinized by police, rightfully so, because ‘could they be another Smollett?'”

Smollett was convicted Thursday on five of six charges filed after he staged an anti-gay, racist attack on himself nearly three years ago and then lied to Chicago police about it. He was acquitted on one count.

The disorderly conduct charge is a class 4 felony that carries a prison sentence of up to three years.

Judge James Linn set a post-trial hearing for Jan. 27, and said he would schedule Smollett’s sentencing at a later date. 

Terri Austin, host and legal analyst on the Law & Crime Network, does not believe Smollett will serve time.

“I think he will probably pay some money, as far as the authorities wasting time doing this investigation,” Austin said on “Dan Abrams Live” on Tuesday. “Maybe he’ll go on probation. Maybe he’ll do community service.”

The verdict came after a roughly one-week trial in which two brothers testified that Smollett recruited them to fake an attack on him near his home in downtown Chicago in January 2019.

Smollett has repeatedly denied he staged the attack on himself for publicity, telling a prosecutor as the trial neared its end that, “There was no hoax on my part” and that the two brothers who testified against him are “liars.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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