“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who is black and has come out as gay, recently alleged that he was physically assaulted by two men after visiting a Subway sandwich shop in Chicago at 2:00 a.m. According to Smollett’s statements to the Chicago police, the two men directed racial and homophobic slurs at him, poured a chemical on him, wrapped a noose around his neck, and shouted “This is MAGA country” in a reference to President Donald Trump.
In the days following the alleged attack, two men were arrested and questioned by police. Meanwhile, some skepticism was raised about the credibility of Smollett’s allegations. The actor responded by providing an emotional account of how the two persons assaulted him to ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
However, there has been a growing sentiment that Smollett staged the alleged attack in some way. If he lied about the attack, could he face criminal charges?
Giving False Information to Police (VC 31)
Under California Vehicle Code Section 31, it is a crime to give false information to a peace officer who is in the performance of his or her own duties. You could be charged with this crime if you:
- Provided a peace officer false information while the peace officer was performing his or her duties as a peace officer
- Knew the information you provided to the peace office was false; and
- Knew or should have known the person receiving the information was a peace officer
Providing false information to the police is a misdemeanor offense. The possible penalty for a person who gives false information to a peace officer is up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Falsely Reporting a Crime (PC 148.5)
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could face charges of filing a false report of a crime under California Penal Code Section 148.5 if you lie to the police. You could be charged with this crime if you:
- Made a report of a crime that is false
- Knew the report was false; and
- Knew the person you reported the crime to was acting in a professional capacity to accept reports of a crime
If Smollett were to be charged with this crime in California, he could face up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. However, he could face more serious penalties if the offense is accompanied with charges of perjury or fraud.
What Happens Next for Jussie Smollett?
It may be that Smollett is telling the truth. If so, the perpetrators of this vile hate crime should be prosecuted and convicted. They would likely be sent to state prison if convicted. However, if Smollett is lying about the allegation, it would be a horrible injustice for any person to be convicted of a hate crime against him.
As with all serious legal matters, everyone should not make a quick judgment on who is telling the truth in this highly publicized case. We urge you to sit back and follow the story and hope that justice will be carried out in this case.
We also urge you to contact our office if you are facing any criminal charge. Our law firm has been able to successfully defend hundreds of persons accusing of making false police reports to law enforcement. We can help you now.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich immediately. Our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing criminal charges for more than 40 years. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.
Call our law firm today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation regarding your case. We will be there when you call.