The latest development comes after Smollett's lawyers successfully delayed a hearing of two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, who were scheduled to testify before a grand jury.
Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
Smollett’s attorneys provided a statement: “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
If convicted, Smollett faces one to three years in prison.
Earlier in the day, the Chicago Police Department had named him a suspect in a criminal investigation. The actor stands accused of making up the details of an alleged hate-crime attack that ended with him having a noose placed around his neck and seeking medical attention.
The latest development comes after Smollett’s lawyers successfully delayed a hearing of two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, who were scheduled to testify before a grand jury. The brothers, formerly named persons of interest in the purported attack, were moments away from testifying at a Chicago courthouse Tuesday when Smollett’s defense team persuaded prosecutors to halt the proceedings. Chicago’s CBS 2 reported that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office received a call from Smollett’s lawyers stating that they might have new evidence in the case.
TMZ reported that this call successfully delayed the proceedings of the grand jury, because either Smollett and/or his attorneys had said they were prepared to sit down with police.
Ultimately, the grand jury will weigh evidence presented by detectives and decide whether the 36-year-old Empire star will be indicted on a felony. Earlier in the day, Fox released a statement denying reports that Smollett was being written out of the show.
Chicago police wanted to question Smollett again after arresting and releasing the Osundairo brothers last week. Multiple reports citing law enforcement officials claimed that the two brothers told investigators that they had helped to stage the attack with Smollett.
“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” a Chicago P.D. spokesperson said over the weekend. “We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”
The actor did not meet with police on Monday or Tuesday.
On Saturday, Smollett’s attorneys denied that the actor “played a role in his own attack” and cast doubt on the possibility that the brothers could have been involved.
This week, police floated a new reason to explain why Smollett might have staged the attack. Sources told ABC News that the actor was upset that a threatening letter he received on Jan. 22 did not receive enough attention. The FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are currently investigating whether Smollett played a role in sending that note.
Smollett said he was attacked on Jan. 29 at around 2 a.m., by two men as he was walking home. Chicago police said at the time they were treating the assault as “a possible hate crime.”