Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett is relying on "the truth" after being indicted on six new charges in connection to an alleged staged hate crime last year. After appearing in a Chicago court Monday, where he pleaded not guilty to six counts of felony disorderly conduct, Smollett briefly opened up about the case with TMZ on Tuesday as he was leaving LAX.
"He's holding up, he'll get through this," his lawyer, Tina Glandian, told the outlet. "We have faith that the system will eventually work in our favor."
Speaking for himself, Smollett, who has long denied any misdoings, said that the entire case is "definitely frustrating, but you just gotta fight or die at this point."
"I don't claim to be innocent, I am innocent," he added. "The truth is the best defense."
After pleading not guilty to 16 counts of the charge in the same courthouse last year, charges that were later dismissed, Smollett and Glandian returned the Cook County courthouse Monday for the actor’s first court appearance. Earlier this month, special prosecutor Dan Webb confirmed that a Cook County grand jury had returned a six-count indictment of disorderly conduct. The indictment charges the actor with making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers "related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime."
During the Monday appearance, Glandian entered a plea of not guilty on Smollett's behalf and informed Judge James B. Linn that she has asked the Illinois Supreme Court to halt the case, according to TIME.
Smollett's attorneys have also filed a motion for the case to be dismissed over double jeopardy, “arguing that the refiling of charges violated protections against being charged twice for the same crime." Prosecutors, however, have argued that double jeopardy does not apply because Smollett was never prosecuted on the previous charges last year.
"He's obviously frustrated to be dragged through this process again," Glandian told reporters after the hearing, adding that the prosecution is "an ordeal" for the actor, who has the support relatives.0comments
"He's strong, he's resilient, he’ll get through this, but he's frustrated," she said.
A $20,000 personal recognizance bond was set on Monday, meaning that Smollett does not have to pay any of it. The actor, who was not taken into police custody, is next set to appear in court on Wednesday, March 18.