The two have been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and are facing their first hearing later this month.
However, on Monday, the Santa Fe District Attorney decided to drop the firearm enhancement charge against each of them, which means that they may not face time behind bars.
Alec Baldwin & ‘Rust’ Armorer May Not Face Jail Time After DA Drops ‘Rust’ Firearm Enhancement Charges
Both Alec Baldwin and “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed may not spend any time behind bars for the death of Halyna Hutchins, even if they are convicted. Both are facing two involuntary manslaughter charges. Under New Mexico law, the involuntary manslaughter charge is a fourth-degree felony and is punishable with a sentence of up to 18 months behind bars and a $5,000 fine.
The firearm enhancement, placed on the second charge, would result in a mandatory five-year prison stay if either of them was convicted. However, on Monday, TMZ was the first to report that the DA had dropped the charge. The New Mexico law added the firearm enhancement charge to apply to cases where the gun was “brandished.”
That means that Baldwin had to use the gun to intimidate and injure a person. Considering that Baldwin was rehearsing a scene for a film and reportedly did not even know that the gun was loaded, it does not apply to this situation.
If that wasn’t enough, the firearm enhancement statute was not enacted at the time of Hutchins’ death in October 2021. The law only came into effect seven months later. According to the legal documents filed by Baldwin’s team, via Deadline, “The prosecutors in this case have committed an unconstitutional and elementary legal error by charging Mr. Baldwin under a statute that did not exist on the date of the accident.”
Firearm Enhancement Charge Was Enacted Months After Halyna Hutchins’ Death
The papers go on to say, “It thus appears that the government intended to charge the current version of the firearm enhancement statute, which was not enacted until May 18, 2022, seven months after the accident.”
“Accordingly, that enhancement should not be bound over,” the legal documents state. “Application of the current version of the statute would be unconstitutionally retroactive, and the government has no legitimate basis to charge Mr. Baldwin under the version of the statute that existed at the time of the accident.”
Two weeks ago, the Santa Fe DA’s office seemed set on keeping the firearm enhancement charge. Spokesperson Heather Brewer argued, “ “The District Attorney and special prosecutor are actively reviewing all applicable laws to ensure they have the strongest case to secure justice for Halyna Hutchins.”
Following the motion placed by Baldwin’s legal team, the Santa Fe District Attorney’s office claimed that the “30 Rock” actor was trying to “distract from the gross negligence and complete disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set that led to Halyna Hutchins’ death.”
Santa Fe DA Insists Everyone Will Be ‘Held Accountable Under The Law’
“Another day, another motion from Alec Baldwin and his attorneys in an attempt to distract from the gross negligence and complete disregard for safety on the Rust film set that led to Halyna Hutchins’ death,” spokesperson Heather Brewer told Deadline.
“In accordance with good legal practice, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor will review all motions–even those given to the media before being served to the DA,” Brewer added.
“However, the DA’s and the special prosecutor’s focus will always remain on ensuring that justice is served and that everyone–even celebrities with fancy attorneys–is held accountable under the law,” Brewer added.
That being said, it looks like Baldwin’s legal team won out and the “Rust” firearm enhancement charge has been removed. Now, he will no longer have to face a mandatory five-year stay behind bars if convicted.
Alec Baldwin & ‘Rust’ Armorer May Face No Jail Time, Even If Convicted
If Baldwin, or “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, are convicted of involuntary manslaughter, they would face up to eighteen months behind bars.
However, it’s at a judge’s discretion whether to make him face any jail time at all. It is possible that the judge could give him less time or even probation.
The charges were first announced in January and formally filed at the end of the month. In a brief statement made at the time, Baldwin’s lawyer Luke Nikas said, “This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice. Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set.”
“He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds,” Nikas continued. “We will fight these charges, and we will win.”