Legal Experts Weigh In On Whether Alec Baldwin Could Face Jail Time

by : Poppy Bilderbeck on : 23 Oct 2021 15:06
Legal Experts Weigh In On Whether Alec Baldwin Could Face Jail TimeAlamy

After accidentally fatally shooting a crew member and injuring another, experts have debated whether Alec Baldwin could face time in jail. 

42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins passed away on Thursday, October 21 as a result of Baldwin firing his prop gun on the set of 19th Century western film Rust, not realising it had live ammunition inside. The film’s director – 48-year-old Joel Souza – was also injured in the incident.


Court records revealed that the actor was under the impression the gun was completely safe, and in a statement, Baldwin noted he was ‘fully cooperating with police’, however experts have since weighed in on the likelihood of whether or not the 63-year-old will face prison time.

Alec Baldwin (Alamy)Alamy

According to experts, it is unlikely, but not entirely impossible, that the actor will face any legal charges, Newsweek reports.

Senior Lecturer at Harvard Law School, the Honourable Nancy Gertner, stated how ‘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’.


However, Matthew Nash, who is an Attorney-At-Law and Bar Practice Tutor at The University of Law, stated that an involuntary manslaughter charge may be a possible conviction against Baldwin.

Legal Experts Weigh In On Alec Baldwin Shooting (Alamy) Alamy

The charge would be possible if it were proven the actor had been advised to not fire the prop gun, but had then proceeded to do so.

Nash said how ‘under New Mexico law’ Baldwin could be found ‘guilty of involuntary manslaughter, which is a killing that takes place without due caution and circumspection’. Under the law, such an act doesn’t require the suspect to have had ‘specific intent’ in killing the person.


Such a charge would result in Baldwin facing a maximum penalty of ‘a fine of $5,000’ or ‘an 18-month prison sentence’.

However, despite the possibility the charge, similar past incidents on-set have not seen it received, such as the death of Brandon Lee on the set of The Crow in 1993.

Legal Experts Weigh In On Alec Baldwin Shooting (Alamy) Alamy

Despite not perhaps facing criminal charges, Baldwin could instead face a lawsuit.


Judge Gertner stated:

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 also a question of whether there is protocol, so the handling of guns, that he may or may not have breached. Then there’s the question of what the contract was. That would determine who’s liable for what. The odds are that there would be insurance for civil issues.

Nash noted how Baldwin’s role as not just an actor, but also producer, could make him ‘more likely to be liable under civil law for negligence or, potentially, contractual law’. However, he said how the actor would likely be covered by insurance.

Alec Baldwin (Alamy)Alamy

Judge Gertner concluded that it was ‘extremely unlikely that there is any criminal liability here’ and that if she could predict the outcome, it would be 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’.

Baldwin has been questioned by the police and both he and Rust Movies Productions LLC have stated they are cooperating fully with the investigation.

The production for the film has halted as the investigation into the incident continues.

Director, Souza, has since been released from hospital after he had to undergo treatment for a shoulder injury which he sustained in the shooting.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677

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Topics: News, Alec Baldwin, jail, Now, Rust, Shooting


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