Alec Baldwin’s “rust” charge, prison sentence reduced

Prosecutors dropped firearms enhancement charges against Baldwin after the actor’s lawyers argued against the law, which was passed after the shooting.

Alec Baldwin’s charges in the fatal “Rust” shooting case have been significantly downgraded after prosecutors decided to drop New Mexico’s firearms enhancement law violation from the case. The prosecutor filed an amended charge against the actor and defendant Hannah Gutierrez-Reed on Friday.

The Firearms Expansion Act carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison for anyone who breaks the law. With the charges dropped, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed face a maximum of 18 months in prison, or a year and a half if convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Halyna Hutchins.

“In order to avoid further litigation diversion for Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and Special Prosecutor have removed the firearm accessory to the involuntary manslaughter charge in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of ‘Rust,'” Heather Brewer, spokeswoman for the Mexico DA, told IndieWire- in his statement to “The prosecution’s priority is to deliver justice, not to secure billable hours for big-city lawyers.”

Baldwin’s attorneys filed a motion earlier this month to remove the firearm enhancement charges from the case, arguing that the DA made a “fundamental legal error” in charging the actor under said statute. The October 2021 shooting, in which Baldwin held a gun on the set of “Rust,” killed cameraman Hutchins, occurred seven months before the law was set to officially take effect in the state in May 2022. Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed, who served as the film’s bodyguard, were charged Jan. 31 with involuntary manslaughter.

In a Feb. 10 motion to overturn the law, Baldwin’s attorneys said prosecution under the law would be “unconstitutionally retroactive and the government has no legitimate basis.” Under current firearms enhancement laws, defendants face at least five years in prison if they discharge a weapon during a crime. Instead, the law in effect at the time of the “rust” incident only applies if the defendant intended to injure or intimidate, which does not apply to accidental shootings.

“We applaud the district attorney’s decision to dismiss the firearms supplement and it was ethically and substantively correct,” said Jason Bowles, Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney. Baldwin’s attorneys declined to comment.

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are scheduled to be arraigned next Friday.

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