Jussie Smollett – Was It Legal for Chicago Prosecutors to Drop All Charges Against Jussie Smollett?
On March 26, 2019, prosecutors in Chicago dropped all charges against the Empire actor Jesse Smollett. He was charged in January with staging a hate crime. In exchange for the charges being dropped, Smollett agreed to community service and to forfeit the $10,000 bond he paid for his release. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel criticized the prosecutor’s decision to drop the charges against Mr. Smolett.
Many people are wondering how is it possible for the Chicago state’s attorney to drop all charges against Mr. Smollett. Like most states, the state’s attorney in Illinois is vested with exclusive discretion to determine whether to bring criminal charges against a suspect, and to decide what charges to bring. Van Guilder v. Glasgow, 588 F. Supp. 2d 876 (N.D. Ill. 2008. In other words, it is up to the state’s attorney to decide whether or not to charge Mr. Smollett. Whether the decision to drop the charges against Mr. Smollett is the right thing to do is up to debate.
In Louisiana, district attorneys have the same prosecutorial discretion. Prosecutors in Louisiana have the power and discretion to choose which crime, if any, the defendant should be charged with. State v. Flores, 669 So. 2d 646 (La. App. 2 Cir. 2/28/96). It is not a violation of any law for the prosecutor to decide not to charge someone. Thus, while it appears that the decision to not prosecute Mr. small that is controversial, it is legal.
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This information has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any specific situation under federal and/or Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may impose additional obligations on you and/or your family member. © 2019 Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law.