What could happen to Alec Baldwin if he is criminally charged in the ‘Rust’ shooting?
A letter obtained from the Santa Fe DA office signals the charges are being considered against four people in the fatal on-set shooting of Halyna Hutchins.
Alec Baldwin may soon face criminal charges in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of ‘Rust’ last year. The Santa Fe District Attorney filed an emergency request for funding to prosecute up to four people in connection with the incident.
The letter, obtained by The Los Angeles Times, states that DA Mary Carmack-Altwies’ office is considering homicide charges, as well as gun violations to be brought. While all four possible defendants were not disclosed, the request does mention “one of the possible defendants is well known movie actor Alec Baldwin.”
What could Alec Baldwin be charged with?
“During the filming of [Rust], Alec Baldwin shot and killed Halyna Hutchins and injured Joel Souza while rehearsing a scene,” Carmack-Altwies wrote in the request. “Many individuals had handled the gun that ultimately killed Hutchins and injured Souza.”
The most serious charge the 30 Rock star could potentially face is involuntary manslaughter for allegedly firing the round that killed Hutchins. Penalties for this form of homicide are generally less severe, in New Mexico it is a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
Under New Mexico criminal statutes “involuntary manslaughter consists of manslaughter committed in the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to felony, or in the commission of a lawful act [which] that might produce death in an unlawful manner or without due caution and circumspection.”
What are the chances of Alec Baldwin being convicted?
Getting a criminal involuntary manslaughter conviction will require the DA to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that the individuals she brings charges against were reckless. Richard Kaplan, a criminal defense attorney, told NBC News that prosecuting Hollywood cases like this one have been difficult for authorities in the past.
As for Baldwin he has repeatedly denied responsibility for the shooting on the set of ‘Rust’. In an interview with CNN in August, Baldwin shifted the blame again on the set’s armorer and props assistant, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, and assistant director Dave Halls, the person who handed him the gun declaring it “cold” to say that it wasn’t loaded with any live ammo.
“Someone put a live bullet in the gun who should have known better. That was [Gutierrez Reed’s] job,” Baldwin said. “Her job was to look at the ammunition and put in the dummy round or the blank round, and there wasn’t supposed to be any live rounds on the set.”
Alec Baldwin facing a civil lawsuit
The ‘Rust’ producer could be in more serious legal jeopardy when it comes to the wrongful death lawsuit that has been filed against him and other producers by Hutchins’s widow. In a civil lawsuit lawyers must merely sway a jury that Baldwin “recklessly shot and killed” the cinematographer. The lawsuit claims that the makers of ‘Rust’ “failed to perform industry standard safety checks and follow basic gun safety rules while using real gun.”