Jussie Smollett says the truth will set him free -- literally -- as he ramps up for a second round of fighting criminal charges in Chicago.
The ex-"Empire" star was leaving LAX Tuesday when a photog ran into him and asked to see how he's holding up. His lawyer says he's a tough cookie, but Jussie laughs it off -- it's pretty clear he's going through it, and seems to think at least that much should be obvious.
He's pled not guilty again, and his legal team has filed a motion for the case to be dismissed over double jeopardy -- which basically means you can't prosecute someone over the same offenses twice. Jussie and his lawyer talk about that, plus other possible defenses.
The photog asks point-blank ... which is it gonna be, JS -- telling 'em you didn't do it, or hope double jeopardy saves ya? Watch ... Jussie says there's only one thing he can count on.
Spoiler ... he's gonna stick to his story -- lock, stock and barrel.