Could Alec Baldwin Face Jail Time for Fatal Shooting? Legal Experts Weigh In

The deadly capturing incident involving Alec Baldwin has shocked Hollywood and sparked a collection of questions on the place the actor stands legally.

On Thursday, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died and writer-director Joel Souza was injured after Baldwin discharged a prop gun on the set of his upcoming Western movie Rust, on which he serves as star and producer.

Production on the film has subsequently been halted as an investigation into the capturing by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office continues.

“This investigation remains open and active,” Santa Fe County Sheriff’s spokesperson Juan Rios said in a statement. “No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives.”

In an announcement shared on Twitter on Friday, Baldwin has expressed his “shock and sadness” on the loss of life of his colleague as he additionally shared that he’s “fully cooperating” with the police investigation and is in contact with Hutchins’ household.

The Los Angeles Times printed claims that digital camera crew members walked off set to protest working circumstances simply six hours earlier than the deadly capturing occurred.

Camera operators and assistants are stated to have walked off due to lengthy hours and pay, whereas different crew members allegedly expressed issues about gun security and misfires within the days main as much as the incident.

“The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company,” Rust Movie Productions stated in an announcement. “Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down.

“We will proceed to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities of their investigation and provide psychological well being providers to the solid and crew throughout this tragic time.”

Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin attends the 2020 Sundance Film Festival – “Beast Beast” Premiere at Prospector Square Theatre on January 25, 2020 in Park City, Utah. Legal specialists have weighed in on whether or not the actor and producer may face legal fees referring to Thursday’s deadly capturing on the set of his upcoming Western movie “Rust.”
Jim Bennett/Getty Images

The tragic accident has led to questions over whether or not Baldwin stands to face any legal fees. Legal specialists imagine that is unlikely—although not unimaginable.

“In order for there to be criminal charges, one would really have to show that he intentionally killed this woman, which seems unlikely on the facts as we know them,” the Honorable Nancy Gertner, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Law School, instructed Newsweek.

Involuntary Manslaughter

According to Matthew Nash, Attorney-at-law (California) and Bar Practice Tutor at The University of Law, Baldwin may face an involuntary manslaughter cost. Baldwin may face such a cost if he was discovered to be reckless in his dealing with of the prop gun, if, for instance, he discharged the weapon regardless of being suggested to not.

“It would appear that under New Mexico law, Alec Baldwin could be guilty of involuntary manslaughter, which is a killing that takes place without due caution and circumspection,” Nash instructed Newsweek.

Under the fourth-degree felony “the maximum penalty under New Mexico law would be a fine of $5,000 or an 18-month prison sentence,” stated Nash.

Involuntary manslaughter, below the New Mexico regulation, doesn’t require “specific intent” of wanting an individual’s loss of life.

However, even from this angle, legal fees can be uncommon, as deadly on-set shootings with prop weapons have traditionally been dominated as accidents, notes Judge Gertner, Retired Judge, U.S. District Ct., D. Mass. One of probably the most outstanding examples of that is the 1993 death of Brandon Lee on the set of The Crow.

Civil Liability

Even if he does not face legal fees, Baldwin should still face lawsuits, Judge Gertner stated, explaining: “Civil liability is different, and that really depends on facts we don’t know yet. One question is, was there some negligence in the projectile that was used in the gun and who was negligent.

“There’s additionally a query of whether or not there’s protocol, so the dealing with of weapons, that he might or might not have breached. Then there’s the query of what the contract was. That would decide who’s liable for what. The odds are that there can be insurance coverage for civil points.”

Noting that all facts have yet to be revealed, Judge Gertner went on: “Negligence is the prototype of an unintentional killing—not legal, however an accident.”

Producer Role

Baldwin’s larger role of not just being an actor on the set could also lead to future legal wrangles, according to Nash.

He said: “As the producer on the movie, he’s most likely extra more likely to be liable below civil regulation for negligence or, doubtlessly, contractual regulation if there’s something within the contracts of the director of pictures who labored on the movie as to well being and security. His danger would due to this fact more likely to be extra civil in nature.”

Nash concurred with Judge Gertner that Baldwin is likely already protected on this angle, saying “it might be that any such legal responsibility can be coated by insurance coverage.”

Many Questions

Judge Gertner noted the plethora of questions that would need to be looked into, such as “what was within the projectile, who was accountable for the gun, have been there protocols that ought to have been used on the location that weren’t adopted, and what was Alec Baldwin’s accountability for any of this.

“The question is what kind of liability he might have based on that—not as a shooter, but as someone who is responsible for the scene [as producer]… His responsibility to the team would depend on what the contract says, and would depend upon who else was responsible. There are lots and lots of questions.”

Halyna Hutchins
Halyna Hutchins attends the 2018 Sundance Film Festival Official Kickoff Party Hosted By SundanceTV at Sundance TV HQ on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah. The cinematographer handed away on Thursday.
Mat Hayward/Getty Images for AMC Networks

“I think the most that I would certainly commit to saying is that it seems, from what we know, extremely unlikely that there is any criminal liability here,” Judge Gertner continued. “People can be injured and even die from blanks in a gun, because it’s a projectile that comes out with force.

“The approach to consider that is homicide is often an intentional act on one finish of the continuum. The different finish are negligence and accidents, et cetera. Most states limit legal legal responsibility to intention. There are some exceptions, however that is often it.

“And then negligence with civil damages, that depends on who was responsible for what, who had indemnified who. It’s a more complicated question, but that’s certainly in the realm that we are in.”

Ultimately, concluded Judge Gertner: “If I had to predict, I would predict that there would be no criminal liability and that the production company would immediately pay whatever the damages are to the family of the person who died.”

Joel Souza
Joel Souza attends the “Crown Vic” New York screening at Village East Cinema on November 06, 2019 in New York City. The filmmaker was briefly hospitalized following the incident.
Jim Spellman/Getty Images

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