Above: Jussie Smollett (with arm raised) is led out of court after his sentencing last week.
Jussie Smollett has been released from jail while he appeals his disorderly conduct convictions related to a hate crime hoax.
Smollett was sentenced last Thursday to 150 days in Cook County Jail in Chicago, along with 30 months of probation, and ordered to pay the city of Chicago $120,000 in restitution. He was convicted by a Cook County jury in December of five counts of disorderly conduct. The jury found that he staged a racist, antigay hate-crime attack on himself in 2019 and lied to police about it. Judge James Linn ordered the former Empire star to begin serving his jail time immediately.
But the Illinois Appellate Court ruled Wednesday that Smollett can remain free during his appeal of the convictions, and he was then released, the Associated Press reports. Smollett's attorneys said his sentence would be over by the time the appeals process played out, and they asserted that he would be in danger in the jail. The legal team planned a press conference for Wednesday evening.
Smollett had referred to potential danger at the time of his sentencing, saying that he wasn't suicidal and that if he came to harm while in jail, he didn't cause it. He was released on a $150,000 personal recognizance bond, "meaning he doesn't have to put down money but agrees to come to court as required," according to the AP.
The special prosecutor assigned to Smollett's case argued that he wasn't in danger and was in protective custody, monitored by security cameras. But a three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled 2-1 that he could be freed.
In January 2019, Smollett, who is Black and gay, said he had been attacked by two men in a racist and homophobic assault while returning home from a restaurant. He claimed to have been beaten and to have had a substance thrown on him. Smollett said the assailants spewed racist and antigay slurs at him while tying a rope around his neck.
Almost a month later, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx charged the actor with filing a false police report. However, the charge was later dropped, and a judge assigned a special prosecutor, Dan Webb, to the case. After Webb's investigation, he said that Smollett would be indicted again on six felony counts of disorderly conduct (the actor was found guilty on all but one). Webb also said Foxx's office had made false claims as to why it dropped the previous charge.
Following his arrest and the investigations into the hoax, Empire producers wrote Smollett's character out of the show.