Will Alec Baldwin face jail time for involuntary manslaughter? This is the following in the case of ‘Rest’

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Alec Baldwin is charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of Halyna Hutchins. Here’s what that means. (Photo: WireImage)

Prosecutors in New Mexico announced Thursday that Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary manslaughter Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dies on set in 2021. The actor said through his lawyer that he intends to “fight” the charges. What does all this mean for the 64-year-old Emmy-winning actor?

Both Baldwin and gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed are facing two counts of involuntary manslaughter. They will be “alternatively charged,” meaning that a jury will decide not only if they are guilty, but under what definition of involuntary manslaughter they are guilty. To be found guilty of the first charge, involuntary manslaughter, the prosecution must prove underlying negligence. The other charge is involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, which requires proof that more than simple negligence was involved in a death. Celebrity lawyer Chris Melcher explains to Yahoo Entertainment what this all means.

“The decision to bring involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed is supported by their failure to comply with basic firearm safety rules. The first safety rule required Baldwin to treat the guns as loaded until they were physically checked in his direct presence to confirm that there were no live cartridges in the gun. This happens every time before a gun is handed to an actor on set,” says Melcher. “Baldwin accepted the word of the first assistant director, David Halls, that the gun was not loaded, even though Halls was not authorized to handle the gun and no one showed Baldwin that the gun was safe. It was reckless of Baldwin to message from an unqualified person that the gun was not loaded and then point it at Halyna Hutchins.”

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Halls has agreed to plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon. The terms include a suspended sentence and six months’ probation. Melcher calls this a “good move” because “he would probably be convicted”.

“I feel he took the IOU to reduce his exposure to prison or imprisonment. The prosecution did not need Halls’ cooperation to secure a conviction against Baldwin. We know what happened on set because statements have been provided. The facts are not really up for debate. The question is whether a jury will conclude that those facts are sufficient for a conviction,” he notes.

If this goes to court, Baldwin’s version of events will be scrutinized by experts. The 30 Rock star said he didn’t pull the trigger. Baldwin, who blamed Halls, Gutierrez-Reed and other crew members for Hutchins’ death in his own legal filing, said he withdrew the hammer during rehearsals at the cameraman’s request, but not far enough to actually cock the gun .

“The prosecution will have to call a firearms expert to testify that the gun was tested and did not fire without the trigger being pulled,” Melcher says.

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Under New Mexico law, involuntary manslaughter is a felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. The first charge also includes the negligent use of a firearm charge, which would likely be aggregated under the law.

Involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act is also a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. However, this charge includes a firearm enhancement or an added mandatory sentence because a firearm was involved. The improvement of the firearm makes the offense punishable by a mandatory five-year prison sentence.

Melcher explains, “The prosecution will file a variety of charges ranging from negligent use of a firearm, which does not carry a prison sentence, to involuntary manslaughter involving the use of a firearm, which carries a mandatory five-year prison sentence. Alec could face charges. able to plead for a lesser charge to accept responsibility without serving time in jail.”

Whether a settlement is in Baldwin’s best interests, powerful California criminal lawyer Michel Huff tells Yahoo that it depends.

“Obviously, we need to see the terms of the plea offer, but I suspect any deal that would see Baldwin face jail time will be rejected,” explained Huff, who has tried cases for 26 years. “While a lengthy public trial is unlikely to be in the best interest of the actor given his considerable resources, Baldwin could fight the charges tooth and nail and stand a good chance of coming out victorious.”

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As of now, it sounds like Baldwin has no interest in accepting any responsibility.

“This decision distorts the tragic death of Halyna Hutchins and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice,” the actor’s attorney, Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel, told Yahoo on Thursday. “Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the film set. He relied on the professionals he worked with to assure him that the gun had no live cartridges. We will fight attacks, and we will win.”

Lawyers for Gutierrez-Reed, who was in charge of gun control on set, also said she “will be cleared of wrongdoing.”

“Hannah is and has always been very emotional and sad about this tragic accident. But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter. These allegations are the result of a deeply flawed investigation and a misunderstanding of the full facts,” Jason Bowles and Todd J. Bullion said in a statement on her behalf. “We intend to expose the full truth and believe that Hannah will be acquitted of wrongdoing by a jury.”

The charges will be officially filed before the end of the month by Mary Carmack-Altwies, New Mexico’s first judicial district attorney.

“After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the Rust film crew,” said Carmack-Altwies on Thursday morning. “Under my supervision, no one is above the law and everyone deserves justice.”

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