Louisiana Lawyer Explains Chances New Mexico Prosecutors Have in Getting Conviction of Alec Baldwin in ‘Rust’ Shooting
We now know that actor Alec Baldwin will face involuntary manslaughter charges in the fatal shooting on the set of "Rust," a would be Western that was set to feature him. Baldwin has denied knowing that there were bullets inside the gun that killed the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and injured Rust director Joel Souza. He has also denied actually shooting the gun, saying it accidentally discharged.
While a civil suit was settled between Hutchins' husband and son against the film producers, the matter of criminal charges was still to be determined. That matter was decided as Santa Fe, New Mexico prosecutors made it clear how responsible they feel Baldwin - along with the armorer and the assistant director on "Rust" - were in the death of Hutchins.
If any one of these three people — Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls — had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple. The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously.
That was Andrea Reeb, a special prosecutor assigned to the case.
Whether or not the shooting was an accident, as well as Baldwin's celebrity status being in play, many people are wondering, "What are the chances of a conviction for Baldwin and will he actually serve jail time?"
What is Involuntary Manslaughter?
Before we can determine the chances of a conviction and jail time, let's examine the charge of involuntary manslaughter.
"Involuntary manslaughter is the lowest criminal charge to hold someone responsible for death of another person," says Joshua Ritter in this USA Today article, a criminal defense lawyer and partner at El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers in Los Angeles. "Even if someone is doing something lawfully, if that action could lead to the death of someone else without due caution, you can be held criminally liable."
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were charged with two charges of involuntary manslaughter and, as USA Today points out, "one determines if there was underlying negligence and the other requires that there was more than simple negligence in Hutchins' death."
While both charges can result in up to a year and a half in jail and a $5,000 fine, the latter charge carries with it a mandatory five years in jail.
What are the Chances of a Conviction for Baldwin?
That latter charge of being grossly negligent is something that will be difficult to prove. That's according to Baton Rouge criminal defense attorney Franz Borghardt who says the prosecution will have to prove that Baldwin knew, or should have known, that the gun was loaded or likely to be loaded. Baldwin maintains he didn't know, which Borghardt says will make it difficult for the jury to convict beyond reasonable doubt.
If it’s a D.A. trying to make name for himself, he better be ready - no pun intended - to be a faster slinger than the legal team that is probably going to represent Mr. Baldwin.
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