According to ABC11, an Illinois appellate court ruled that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett be released from jail on bond during the appeal for his conviction on Wednesday (March 16). A judge originally sentenced him to five months in jail after a jury found him guilty for concocting and falsifying a racist and homophobic attack in 2019.
The appeals court says Smollett is permitted to be released after posting bond in the amount of $150,000. His lawyers argued that the actor’s safety would be at risk if he remained in Cook County Jail. Following his sentencing, the actor was placed in protective custody.
Court documents said he would most likely complete the sentence before the appeal. However, prosecutors believed Smollett’s offense fit the punishment. Out of three justices, two members of the appellate panel agreed that the actor should be released citing that the 39-year-old entertainer’s offense was nonviolent.
The appeal filed is partly based on double jeopardy. Smollett’s sentencing conflicts with the legal concept of being tried twice for the same crime. A $10,000 bond was already paid on his behalf in addition to community service performed in 2019. Prosecutors categorized those measures as voluntary and not a form of punishment.
Smollett’s claim of being attacked launched a manhunt for his attackers and turned into one of Chicago’s most high-profile investigations in the city’s history. He was convicted in December on five felony counts of disorderly conduct. The conditions of his sentence allowed an early release in as little as 75 days based on good behavior.
During the sentencing, the actor maintained his innocence and told the judge, “Your Honor, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I did not do this.” He also warned the judge and those in the courtroom that if he died while in custody, someone else took his life.
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