Empire star Jussie Smollett will reportedly face a grand jury next week to determine the credibility of his hate crime allegations, following reports that Chicago Police are investigating the actor for orchestrating the attack on himself.
Last month, Smollett claimed that he was assaulted by two men in a racist and homophobic attack, sparking an outpouring of support for him and condemnation of the alleged attack. Yet on Saturday, Chicago police revealed that the focus of the investigation had “shifted.” CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz reported that authorities now believe that Smollett actually paid two men to fake the attack, both of whom were now cooperating with law enforcement.
According to law enforcement officials who spoke with TMZ, a grand jury will hear the case next week to examine its credibility.
So what does that mean?
And why are they using a grand jury instead of a preliminary hearing?
The grand jury plays an important role in the criminal process, but not one that involves a finding of guilt or punishment of a party. Instead, a prosecutor will work with a grand jury to decide whether to bring criminal charges or an indictment against a potential defendant — usually reserved for serious felonies.
At this point, it appears as though Smollett is as guilty as sin, but the grand jury will get to decide if charges should be filed.
Meanwhile, it sounds like Smollett and the two recently released Nigerian brothers are being kept under watchful eyes.
Stay tuned for updates on this ever-changing saga.
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