SANTA FE, NM – The legal team representing Alec Baldwin scored a win for their client after the District Attorney prosecuting the fatal shooting case against the Hollywood actor dropped one of the charges on Monday, greatly lowering the potential jail time he faces.
On October 21, 2021, Baldwin, 63, was filming on the set of the western movie “Rust” at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, when he discharged a gun being used as a prop – that had somehow been loaded with a real bullet – killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, and injuring director Joel Souza, 48.
After an investigation, Baldwin was charged with involuntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter in commission of a lawful act; a firearms enhancement charge was added, which relates to an individual “brandishing” a firearm.
First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies dropped the firearms enhancement charge originally brought against Baldwin in his involuntary manslaughter case; if the actor had been convicted with the firearms enhancement charge intact, he would have been facing a mandatory 5 years in jail.
However, with the firearms enhancement charge now dropped, Baldwin is now only facing a possible 18 months if convicted, according to district attorney spokesperson Heather Brewer.
“In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the ‘Rust’ film set,” she said. “The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys.”
Baldwin’s attorneys had previously argued against the firearms enhancement charge, saying that it was “unconstitutional” to include it since the law had been passed after the shooting had taken place.
“The prosecutors committed a basic legal error by charging Mr. Baldwin under a version of the firearm-enhancement statute that did not exist on the date of the accident,” Baldwin’s attorneys said in a court filing.
Legal experts, including former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani, agreed with Baldwin’s legal team.
“The District Attorney has to be embarrassed,” Rahmani said. “Charging a law retroactively is a constitutional violation, and something that every first year law student knows not to do. Now, she has egg on her face after overcharging the case and grandstanding for the press. She has made one legal blunder after another, and may be in over her head.”
Baldwin will make his first court appearance on February 24, which will be livestreamed on YouTube.