By Kortney Daly

The prosecutors in Santa Fe New Mexico decided to file formal charges against Alec Baldwin for the shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of ‘Rust’ on October 21, 2021. New Mexico Prosecutors have charged him with involuntary manslaughter under New Mexico Statute Section 30-2-3. It is a fourth degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and up $5,000 fine. If the prosecution proves the Gun enhancement with the charge, there is a five year minimum Mandatory prison sentence. Involuntary Manslaughter consists of manslaughter committed in the commission of an unlawful act no amounting to felony, or in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death in an unlawful manner or without due caution and circumspection.”

analysis-alec-baldwin-charge manslaughter

In order to prove the case of involuntary manslaughter against Mr. Baldwin, the Prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. Someone was killed as a result of an act by the defendant
  2. That this act was inherently dangerous or done recklessly
  3. That the defendant should have known the act threatened the lives of the others.

The prosecution will have no issue proving the first element of the offense because Ms. Hutchins died as a result of Mr. Baldwin pulling the trigger on the Colt 45.

The next two elements are where the arguments come into play. The prosecution is more than likely going to argue that pointing a gun at someone in inherently dangerous or reckless.  Most lawyers would agree that pointing a gun at someone meets that criteria. However, Mr. Baldwin did not know the gun was live and loaded. Mr. Baldwin has been acting for decades and worked on many sets. There are procedures in place to make sure those Prop guns they use are not live and loaded. There seems to be a lot of discussion and confusion as to who is ultimately responsible for making sure that the prop gun was in fact not live and therefore safe to use. Mr. Baldwin maintains that he was told the gun was not live and relied on the armorer telling him that the gun was not live. If Mr. Baldwin is under the impression that it is a safe prop gun, he’s not acting in a way that is inherently dangerous or reckless under these circumstances. The same discussion goes for the third element. The prosecution is going to argue that Mr. Baldwin should have known the act of pointing a gun at someone would threaten the lives of others. However, the same argument from the second element applies here as well. Mr. Baldwin was under the impression that he was working with a prop gun that was not live. It’s not fair to say that Mr. Baldwin should have known he could have killed someone with the prop gun if he is acting within standard protocol on set.

Now, there is an argument to be made as to Mr. Baldwin’s civil liability in the overall production and the measures put in place or the lack of measures that contributed to this accident. I think there is an argument to be made as to his civil liability in this. However, I think it is a miscarriage of justice to charge Mr. Baldwin in this case. This was a horrific accident. I hope working conditions are improved on movie sets and better protocols are put in place to prevent something like this. However, no one should be criminally charged in this scenario. I believe the prosecution is going to have a difficult time proving that Mr. Baldwin was acting in a dangerous or reckless manner given the unique circumstances of this case.

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