Valley legal expert weighs in after prosecutors abandon criminal case against Jussie Smollett

CHICAGO (FOX 10/AP) -- Infuriating Chicago's mayor and police chief, prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett on Tuesday after the "Empire" actor accused of faking a racist, anti-gay attack on himself agreed to do volunteer service and to let the city keep his $10,000 in bail.

Authorities gave no detailed explanation for why they abandoned the case only five weeks after filing the charges and threatening to pursue Smollett for the cost of a monthlong investigation. Prosecutors said they still believe Smollett concocted the assault. Authorities alleged that Smollett, who is black and gay, knew the men and arranged for them to pretend to attack him.

The dismissal drew an immediate backlash. Emanuel called the deal "a whitewash of justice" and lashed out at Smollett for dragging the city's reputation "through the mud" in a quest to advance his career. At one point he asked, "Is there no decency in this man?"

Smollett's attorneys said his record was "wiped clean" of the 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was assaulted by two men. The actor insisted that he had "been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one."

"I would not be my mother's son if I was capable of one drop of what I was being accused of," he told reporters after a court hearing. He thanked the state of Illinois "for attempting to do what's right."

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Cook County prosecutors' office said the dismissal came "after reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case." Tandra Simonton called it "a just disposition and appropriate resolution" but said it's not an exoneration.

When dropping cases, prosecutors will sometimes insist that the defendant accept at least a measure of responsibility. Outside court, neither Smollett nor his legal team appeared to concede anything about his original report in January.

Defense attorney Patricia Brown Holmes said Smollett was "attacked by two people he was unable to identify" and "was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator."

Meanwhile, Valley attorney Benjamin Taylor says it is unusual for a case to just be dropped, especially in the very beginning of an investigation.

"Under the law, prosecutors have to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt," said Taylor. "If prosecutors can't prove the case in court -- we still don't know if he did this or not unless he was brought in front a of judge and evidence was seen in front of everyone."

Taylor said the situation could have been avoided if it went through the proper system.

"I believe there may have been a back deal made to walk away free, or the prosecutor didn't have enough evidence to prosecute Smollett," said Taylor. "Sometimes, the cases are tried in the court of public opinion, but you have to wait for the case to go into a courtroom for the evidence to come out."

In a statement, officials with 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment say "Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence, and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed."

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report. FOX 10 reported on this story from Phoenix.