Actor Jussie Smollett Faces Up to 3 Years in Prison and a $25,000 Fine After Being Found Guilty of 5 Felony Counts

Jussie Smollett rose to fame in 2015 thanks to his groundbreaking performance in the hit TV show Empire. Unfortunately, Smollett made headlines for a less savory reason in January 2019, when the actor claimed he had been the victim of an outrageous hate crime. In the years since, everyone has had something to say about Smollett’s claims. In December 2021, the trial finally went to court.

Now, with the aftermath of the trial unfolding, many fans wonder about the actor’s convictions and what awaits him over the next few years. 

Jussie Smollett claimed he was the victim of a hate crime in 2019

Jussie Smollett leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Dec. 9, 2021, after he was found guilty on five of six disorderly conduct charges for allegedly giving false information to Chicago police about an alleged racial and homophobic attack in January 2019
Actor Jussie Smollett after he was found guilty on five of six disorderly conduct charges | E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

In January 2019, Smollett claimed that two men attacked him on a Chicago street. He said they beat him and shouted homophobic slurs at him. Smollett alleged the men tied a rope around his neck and poured an unknown substance on him while yelling phrases like, “This is MAGA country.”

In the days following the filing of Smollett’s official police report, questions arose. Notably, officials took Abel and Ola Osundairo into custody as people of interest in the case. The brothers were reportedly in the area when the attack allegedly took place.

Abel and Ola have a history with Smollett. One of them worked as an extra on the set of Smollett’s show Empire. Eventually, the brothers claimed Smollett himself staged the attack. They said he used them as accomplices and paid them $3,500 in exchange for their help.

Smollett’s recent trial made headlines everywhere

In the months that followed the alleged hate crime, the Osundairo brothers continued to speak out about their involvement with Jussie Smollett. In April 2020, sources claimed that one of the brothers, Abel, was actually in a relationship with Smollett. The backlash eventually affected Smollett’s career. Empire wrote off his character in early 2020.

By that time, Smollett had become the subject of a major lawsuit. The city of Chicago sued him for the cost of the investigation. The case went to trial in early December 2021. Fans everywhere watched the trial unfold, exposing more cracks in the story. Ola spoke at one point, doubling down on his claims that Smollett enlisted him as an accomplice in the staged hate crime. He even claimed he and his brother provided Smollett with a steady supply of drugs. 

What was Jussie Smollett found guilty of?

On December 9, 2021, the trial concluded. Smollett was found guilty of five of six counts of disorderly conduct related to filing a false police report about a battery and false police report about a hate crime, according to The New York Times.

The actor was found not guilty of one count related to telling a detective two weeks after the incident that he was the victim of an aggravated battery. According to CNN, Smollett faces up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The publication notes that Smollett seemed dispassionate during the reading of the verdict, refusing to look at his family or the judge, and remaining still and composed. 

Smollett must wait until late January for the next steps when post-trial motions will be read. However, the dialogue surrounding Smollett’s story is likely only beginning. From the start of the trial, according to the Daily Beast, passions ran high. Many jurors were determined to give the actor a fair trial despite the traumatic nature of the case.

Political figures and groups like Black Lives Matter spoke out about the trial, with Black Lives Matter declaring their support for Smollett. Even the White House, when questioned about the trial, noted that the Biden administration “respects” the guilty verdict, reports The New York Post, in spite of the fact that both Biden and then-President Donald Trump condemned the alleged attacks on social media when the story first broke.

Ultimately, this story will follow Smollett his whole life — long after the fine is paid and the news disappears from headlines.

RELATED: Jurnee Smollett Breaks Her Silence on Jussie Smollett Hate Crime Scandal; ‘I Believe My Brother’