UPDATE (March 26, 2019)– All charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped. Read more here.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is facing a class 4 felony charge after police said he filed a false police report. Chicago police said Smollett faked a hate crime attack to promote his career.
Smollet originally told authorities his attackers hurled racist and anti-gay slurs at him and also tied a looped rope around his neck.
Police said his alleged attackers were paid $3,500 by the actor to commit the staged crime.
Chicago police said Smollett’s false report wasted a lot of their resources and time. It could lead to the actor serving jail time.
CBS4 spoke with an Indianapolis attorney about what the law states as it applies to filing a false police report.
Criminal attorney Joseph Delamater said Indiana and Illinois differ slightly as it relates to filing a false police report. He said if somebody of celebrity status were to commit this sort of crime in Indiana, the likelihood of jail time is low.
He said at its core filing a false police report is a pretty low level offense starting at a class b misdemeanor in Indiana; which is punishable from 0 to 180 days in jail.
He said there’s a small subsection of the obstruction of justice statutes that may allow for a prosecutor to charge it as a level 6 felony.
“Typically Indiana’s obstruction of justice statutes are focused more on active investigations and active criminal prosecutions. Here, the alleged criminal act occurred before an investigation actually occurred, so that would be subject to a strong defense attorney’s attack,” Attorney Joseph Delamater said.
Smollett hasn’t been tried, but Delamater said the actor will only be convicted if the evidence built against him is strong enough.
Smollett could face prison time of one to three years if convicted and be forced to pay for the cost of the police investigation.
A Chicago judge set Smollett’s bond at $100,000. He has since bonded out.