ATLANTA — Young Thug is in jail in Fulton County and will remain there through his trial, after a judge denied him bond on Thursday.
The rapper, whose legal name is Jeffery Williams, is one of 28 people charged with being part of the Young Slime Life street gang in a sweeping indictment brought last month by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
In particular, the Fulton County DA is targeting Young Thug as the alleged "head" of the gang - "he's the one they're all afraid of, he's the one that's King Slime" is how one prosecutor put it during the bond hearing.
However, the rapper's attorneys have argued there is no foundation for these accusations, saying he's being punished on the basis of rap lyrics and social media posts and little to no evidence of any criminal acts. They have emphasized his influence to the Cleveland Avenue community and to art.
The decision to deny bond, the judge acknowledged, was not a light one. "It is not lost on me that I have not given your client a bond," he told the rapper's defense attorneys.
It all but ensures that Young Thug - an award-winning artist who's not just popular for his music but, culturally, highly admired by his fans and peers - will spend a lengthy time in prison without having been proven to commit any crime.
Just how long it will be until he gets his day in court comes down to a few factors.
When will Young Thug's trial begin?
Starting with the easiest and clearest part of things - the judge has already put a date on his calendar for a trial to begin. It's six months out from now, on Jan. 9, 2023.
Is that date set in stone?
It could happen sooner - the judge said Thursday he would "do my level best to make sure this case gets tried as expeditiously as possible. If I can get it on the calendar before the 9th of January I will endeavor to do so."
It could also happen later. It's impossible to foresee all the sorts of hold-ups that could delay a trial, but they tend to emerge in complicated legal proceedings.
Even his bond hearing was delayed - prosecutors filed a motion to disqualify his defense attorney Brian Steel, alleging a potential conflict of interest, that took up several hours of court proceedings when the case came back before the judge on Thursday.
That, for instance, is something that could resurface, with the judge saying he had "concerns" about the potential conflict and could reevaluate his decision to allow Steel to proceed representing Young Thug. If the judge were to disqualify Steel, that's the kind of thing that would set back a trial date.
Will Young Thug really be in jail the whole time?
The judge did leave the door open for the possibility that he might get out at some point.
He said that if Young Thug's defense attorneys "file any other additional motions" that change the circumstances of the case, he would "certainly reconsider the court's position on bond."
It's not immediately clear what kind of motions those would have to be, but it's likely his lawyers are already working up a strategy to change the judge's mind.
If the judge doesn't reconsider at any point, though, then yes - getting denied bond means Young Thug will remain in jail until a jury decides if he's guilty or not.