220311 Smollett
Actor Jussie Smollett appears at his sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 10, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

An Illinois appeals court on Wednesday ordered the release of actor Jussie Smollett from jail while the one-time star of the TV drama “Empire” appeals his conviction for staging a hate crime against himself.

The 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel noted that Smollett’s conviction was for a non-violent offence and said he could be released upon posting a $150,000 recognizance bond. It was unclear when Smollett might walk free.

Smollett has spent six nights in jail since a Cook County judge sentenced him to 150 days of confinement plus 30 months of probation, ordered him to pay over $120,000 in restitution, and fined him $25,000.

In December a jury found Smollett, 39, guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct for falsely telling police he was accosted on a dark Chicago street by two masked strangers in a racist and homophobic attack in January 2019. The investigation revealed that Smollett, who is Black and gay, paid two men to stage the attack.

Despite maintaining his innocence, Smollett lost his role as a singer-songwriter in the final season of “Empire,” a Fox television hip-hop drama that ended a five-year run in 2020.