Alec Baldwin catches major break, will now face significantly less prison time if convicted for ‘Rust’ shooting

News & Politics

Alec Baldwin is counting his lucky stars.

New Mexico prosecutors announced Monday they have dropped the firearm enhancement against him, which would significantly reduce his prison sentence should he be convicted of manslaughter in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust” in October 2021.

What is the background?

Last month, New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced two counts of involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.

The involuntary manslaughter charge, a fourth-degree felony, carries a prison sentence of 18 months. But prosecutors also added a firearm enhancement, which carries a minimum of five years in prison.

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What is happening now?

On Monday, the Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office announced that it had dropped the firearm enhancement against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed. Court documents show the enhancement was dropped last Friday.

“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,” Carmack-Altwies said in a statement. “The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys.”

Lawyers for Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed have argued that applying the firearm enhancement in the case is unconstitutional because it became law after the shooting.

After Baldwin was charged, legal experts predicted that Baldwin would face significantly less prison time if convicted than the initial charges suggested. That is precisely because the ex post facto clause in Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from retroactively bringing criminal charges for crimes committed before a law is passed.

Baldwin’s lawyers, therefore, accused New Mexico prosecutors of committing a “basic legal error” by retroactively charging Baldwin under a law that had not yet existed when the alleged crime was committed.

Baldwin is set to make his first court appearance on Friday, Axios reported.

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