Jussie Smollett Charges Dropped: What Happens Now?

Read on for what's next for Smollett after the headline-making scandal.

In a stunning turn of events, all criminal charges were dropped against Jussie Smollett on Tuesday, meaning the 36-year-old actor will no longer face charges for allegedly filing a false police report in which he claimed he was the victim of a hate crime.

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office told ET in a statement, "After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case."

A source close to Smollett tells ET that prosecutors reached out to Smollett's defense team about two weeks before his charges were dropped, but the source says his legal team didn't expect the resolution to happen so quickly. ET has also learned that community service was never ordered by the court, and a source tells ET that Smollett wants to get on with his life and his career.

Although the charges have been dropped against Smollett, clearly, the Empire star is still facing some fallout when it comes to those who don't agree with the prosecution's decision, but he's also gotten some support from his Empire family.

Read on for what's next for Smollett after the headline-making scandal:

Will there be further lawsuits?

Just because Smollett is off the hook when it comes to criminal charges, it doesn't mean there isn't a chance civil suits may be filed -- whether it be on his behalf, or others suing Smollett. 

In a press conference on Tuesday, his lawyer, Patricia Brown Holmes, said "no comment" when asked if Smollett would possibly take action against the city of Chicago or against brothers Abimbola "Abel" Osundairo and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo --  who CBS News previously reported claimed to police after their home was raided that Smollett knew them and further alleged that the actor "paid them to participate in the alleged attack." Ola worked as an extra on Empire in season two, while Abel was Smollett's personal trainer. Smollett has vehemently denied their accusation through his lawyers. 

Attorney and Law & Crime network host Jesse Weber spoke to ET Live on Tuesday, where he talked about the possibility of Smollett taking the case to civil court. 

"Based on what we know, he seems to have quite the legal ground to file a lawsuit, maybe for malicious prosecution, maybe against the Chicago Police Department, the state attorney's office," Weber said. "I'm not sure that's the avenue they want to go but here's the thing, if he was to do this, and this was to go to litigation, then it's basically trying out this case out again, and a lot of information that maybe he didn't want to come out, or the police department doesn't want to come out, will be exposed."

"If the idea here is to move forward and forget all about this .. the idea of litigating this and getting more information out there that maybe Jussie Smollett and his team doesn't want to expose, that's something they're going to have to think about," Weber continued. " ...He might have legal recourse, I just don't know if he wants to take it."

A source told ET, meanwhile, that there are no immediate conversations happening from Smollett's side to pursue any civil suits. The source maintains that the main focus right now is for Smollett to clear his name, and that the actor's team wants the truth to come out and for him to be able to move on with his life. 

The FBI is still investigating Smollett:

The FBI is still investigating a letter that contained racist and homophobic statements that Smollett says was sent to him a few weeks before the alleged attack in January. 

In a Feb. 21 press conference, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson alleged that Smollett concocted the threatening letter he received, and when that "didn't work," went ahead with the attack. Meanwhile, Smollett has maintained that he is a victim and denied all allegations that he staged the incident.

A source told ET on Wednesday that Smollett is fully cooperating with the federal investigation, which the source claims is expected to be complete in the near future.

What's next for the Osundairo brothers?

Abel and Ola were never charged with a crime. Gloria Schmidt, who represented the brothers in the Smollett case, no longer represents them. Schmidt sent out a statement to ET on Tuesday.

"The Osundairo brothers were fully prepared to testify in any criminal proceeding in the Jussie Smollett case," the statement reads. "Following today’s decision ending the criminal case against Smollett, Gloria Schmidt no longer represents the Osundairo brothers as trial witnesses in the criminal matter. The Gloria Law Group remains in partnership with Strategia Consulting as they continue their work with other clients who have sought the skills and professional services of the Gloria Law Group."

Earlier this month, the brothers released a statement to CBS Chicago via their lawyer, expressing regret.

"My clients have tremendous regret over their involvement in this situation, and they understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves," the statement read.

What's next for Chicago Police and the Cook County State's Attorney?

A Chicago police source tells ET that the department had no idea the Cook County State's Attorney's Office was going to drop all the charges against Smollett on Tuesday morning. The source called the decision "insulting" and an "absolute travesty."

"It was a sucker punch" to the department, the source says. "It was a tough day."

On Tuesday, Johnson and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel slammed the prosecution's decision to drop the charges against Smollett in their own press conference.

"Do I think justice was served? No," Johnson bluntly told reporters. "What do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology.”

"I heard that they wanted their day in court with TV cameras so America could know the truth," he continued. "But no, they chose to hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system. ... I stand behind the detectives' investigation."

Emanuel also addressed reporters and talked about both the financial and "ethical" cost of the case. Emanuel claimed Smollett’s forfeiture of a $10,000 bond didn't "come close" to what the city spent on resources investigating, and also said the case wasn't fair to victims of hate crimes who will now face more scrutiny and doubt. 

"I'd like to remind everybody that a grand jury indicted this individual on only a piece of the evidence that police had collected," Emanuel said. "... This is a whitewash of justice. A grand jury could not have been clearer."

"Where is the accountability in the system?" Emanuel added. "You cannot have, because of a person's position, one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules apply to everybody else. ... Our officers did hard work day in and day out, working to unwind what actually happened that day. The city saw its reputation dragged through the mud."

A Chicago police union, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), has asked for Cook County State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx to be investigated.

"More than a week ago, the FOP requested that federal authorities investigate Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's role in the Smollett case," a statement on the union's Facebook page reads. "With the outrageous decision today to drop all charges in the case, the FOP renews its request."

After strong condemnation by both Johnson and Emanuel, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office shed more light on their decision with another statement to ET.

"In the last two years, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office has referred more than 5,700 cases for alternative prosecution," the statement read. "This is not a new or unusual practice. An alternative disposition does not mean that there were any problems or infirmities with the case or the evidence. We stand behind the Chicago Police Department's investigation and our decision to approve charges in this case. We did not exonerate Mr. Smollett. The charges were dropped in return for Mr. Smollett's agreement to do community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago. Without the completion of these terms, the charges would not have been dropped. This outcome was met under the same criteria that would occur for and is available to any defendant with similar circumstances."

What's next for Smollett on Empire

Smollett's last Empire episode this season will air on April 24, and Empire's season five finale is airing on May 8. On Tuesday, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment sent out a statement to ET regarding the charges being dropped against Smollett.

"Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed," the statement reads.

The Empire writers' Twitter account also showed their support for Smollett.

Smollett's Empire co-star, Taraji P. Henson, told USA Today that she had yet to speak to Smollett and is unsure about his possible Empire return next season. She also said that she's "happy that the truth has finally been set free," adding that she "knew it all along."

"We're all happy for him, and thank God the truth prevailed," she said. "I know him and I know his track record. I'm not going to jump on clickbait just because someone says something derogatory about a person I know and love. I'm not easily swayed like that. Those little clickbait [reports] weren't enough to deter me from his immaculate track record. I know the type of activism this young man does in his community, I know that he's a giver -- he's not an attention-seeker."

Empire producer Diane Ademu-John came to Smollett's defense on Twitter.

"You've just watched a truly good person get dragged through the gutter," Ademu-John wrote. "I am so happy he's been exonerated before any more damage was done, but make no mistake. Damage was done."

At his press conference, Smollett said he was looking forward to putting the case behind him. 

"This has been an incredibly difficult time," he said. "Honestly one of the worst of my entire life. But I am a man of faith and I am a man that has knowledge of my history and I would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn’t. Now I'd like nothing more than to get back to work and move on with my life. But make no mistakes, I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere. So again, thank you for all the support. Thank you for faith and thank you to God. Bless you. Thank you very much."

For more on the case, watch the video below:


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