The disqualified contestant answers questions about his criminal past and what's next

By Kevin O'Donnell
March 16, 2012 08:30 AM
Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

This week on American Idol, contestant Jermaine Jones was given bad news: He was dismissed by executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick for having outstanding arrest warrants in his home state of New Jersey.

Despite his removal, the 25-year-old, dubbed a “gentle giant” for his resonant baritone voice and 6’8″ frame – he was also a favorite of the judges (they brought him back after his initial elimination) – says he has already come to terms with his removal.

“I’m doing very, very well,” he says. “I’m doing great.”

Speaking to PEOPLE on Thursday, Jones touched upon the elimination, his criminal past and what’s next for his music career.

How are you holding up?
I’ve been getting myself together, working on some new music and looking forward to recording soon … I feel amazing. I have amazing fans and an amazing team.

Did you know you were going to be called in front of producers and that it would be filmed?
I did not know any of it. I was actually confused. I didn’t know what was going on. And I walked in and there were all these lights and cameras. I didn’t know what was going on.

When you signed up for Idol, were you asked if you had a criminal past?
They did have a question [in which you had to admit] that you were arrested, and that I did do. And they did an extensive background check. When I went home [after my first elimination] and then I went back, I thought, they’ve done the research at this point. I was a little bit confused.

Did you know you were breaking the rules?
I did not know I was breaking the rules, because before I went, I had to obtain a lawyer and take care of some fines before I could go. I just thought everything was taken care of.

What are your warrants for?
Two for giving a false name, one allegation of a fight and one for driving with a suspended license. They were all minor charges but of course it was a big deal. Who wants a criminal past? It was a very big deal for me.

How do you explain the allegation of a fight?
It was no physical fighting and no punches and nothing of that.

And providing a false name to police?
I forget the exact situation. I guess I was just being careless, I should say. It was last year.

You don’t remember a situation that happened a year ago?
I don’t.

Do you feel you have a scarlet letter affixed to you with the elimination?
People will judge me or hold it against me, but I don’t know anyone that doesn’t have a past. Everyone has a past. It’s not like I shot someone or assaulted anyone. I was younger. I got caught driving with a suspended license. I gave a false name. I’m not trying to say it was okay, but I’ll be all right.

Who will you miss from the show?
I’m definitely going to miss Josh Ledet, because he’s an amazing talent. I’m going to miss all of them, but definitely him. I always thought he had a shot at winning.

What’s next for you?
I’m in the studio getting my album out, getting my tour together. I don’t want to just sit back. I’m excited about my career. I eat it, I breathe it, I sleep it. Hopefully, I can work with some great people in producing my album and just get it going.