Legal experts say Alec Baldwin has alternatives when it comes to the potential jail term he can receive for the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins.
Baldwin was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter after a gun he was holding on the set of “Rust” fired. Baldwin is currently the target of a new civil action filed by the Hutchins family. The director Joel Souza was hurt by the gunshot, which also killed the cinematographer.
The actor faces up to 18 months in jail or a mandatory five years if he is found guilty of the additional guns enhancement to the district attorney’s involuntary manslaughter allegation.
Legal experts that were consulted by Fox News Digital discussed the advantages and disadvantages of Baldwin accepting a plea bargain, going to trial, and other choices.
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A Plea Deal Could Be Presented to Alec Baldwin.
Before the matter goes to trial, the prosecution might present Baldwin with a plea agreement.
“A pro of anyone taking a plea deal is that it can expedite the process and avoids having to go through a trial,” attorney Kate Mangels of the Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump Holley law firm told Fox News Digital. “If a defendant is worried about information that may come out publicly at trial and the effect of that information on them beyond the trial, taking a deal could reduce the publicity of those negative facts.”
“Here, it appears that all of the facts have already been publicized. So, I don’t see that as being a motivation in this case. But that can be a motivation for defendants to take a plea,” Mangels, who is not a party to the dispute, added.
Mangels added that if a defendant is working with a private attorney, there can be a financial incentive to accept a plea bargain. However, the main inducement for defendants to take a plea bargain is that their punishment is frequently on the “lower end.”
According to veteran federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani, Baldwin is probably considering a few plea agreements.
The first is the identical arrangement that assistant director David Halls received in exchange for his guilty plea to reckless use of a deadly weapon. The district attorney said that the terms of his deal included a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
“I don’t expect her to offer that type of deal [to Baldwin],” said Rahmani, who is not involved with the case. “I would be very, very surprised because I think the bottom line is it would be a pretty significant defeat for her. If it were offered, I think Baldwin’s lawyers would advise him to take it. It’s literally a slap on the wrist. It’s nothing.”
The legal expert doesn’t think Baldwin would accept other bargains because they would involve jail time.
“I just don’t see him doing it – taking a deal with any jail time – given who he is, and he cares about his reputation, his career,” Rahmani explained. “He’s got young kids.”
Alec Baldwin Might Run the Possibility of Going to Trial
Going to trial would be an additional choice, but Rahmani claims that doing so would be risky for the actor.
“This is a pretty good defense case as far as defense cases goes, and jurors, they love celebrities. Celebrities tend to do well in these types of trials,” he said. “But there’s always a risk. You never know what 12 strangers who can’t get out of jury duty will do. We’ve seen it before. You think cases are going to go one way, but then you get O.J. [Simpson], Casey Anthony. So, jury trials are unpredictable.”
An expert in public relations told Fox News Digital that Baldwin’s career would suffer if he testified at the trial.
“If Alec has to testify on the stand, it’s a further laceration to his career because it’s a continual reminder of what a horrific failure of judgment he had that led to a senseless death,” Eric Schiffer said. “It also highlights what many saw as this elite privilege that stood on the shoulders of arrogance that somehow he was not to blame, and that guns magically go off defying physics.”
Baldwin is not required to testify if he decides to proceed with the trial. A defendant can always plead the fifth, Mangels told Fox News Digital.
“A trial can look very different for a defendant, whether or not they decide to testify or not,” the legal expert said. “If he does decide to testify, that opens him up to cross-examination by the prosecution, which could open up other areas of inquiry.”
“The prosecution could potentially touch on areas that, while not relevant to the trial, could have a negative impact on his popularity or the way the public views him. There’s a big risk always of a defendant taking a stab at taking the stand and testifying in a criminal trial.”
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Does Alec Baldwin Have Any Other Choices?
The preliminary hearing, which has not yet been scheduled, might throw out Baldwin’s case.
Rahmani noted that this move is “rare” but “possible.”
“A preliminary hearing is a mini-trial or a trial before the trial,” he said. “It’s just in front of the judge. There’s no jury. And the judge needs to decide whether there’s enough probable cause to move forward with the case.”
“It’s just really whether a reasonable juror could find that Baldwin committed these crimes, and if no reasonable juror could find that, then the judge can toss the case at the [preliminary hearing].”
A motion to remove Andrea Reeb as the special prosecutor was just submitted by Baldwin’s legal team. Reeb cannot be both a member of the New Mexico state legislature and a special prosecutor, according to the lawyers.
“It seems like they’re potentially teeing up an argument for some sort of improper motivation for prosecution,” Mangels explained. “So, they could be teeing up a motion having to do with trying to dismiss for prosecutorial misconduct prior to trial or something like that.”
“I’m sure that there are a lot of options that they’re looking at to avoid having to make the decision of whether to plea or go to trial.”
Many people in the Hollywood industry have defended Baldwin.
SAG-AFTRA In a recent interview, President Fran Drescher offered her thoughts on the union’s choice to condemn the prosecution of Baldwin.
“The statement that went out was that the safety of props is not the performer’s responsibility,” she told Variety. “The performer’s responsibility is to give a good performance. And that’s why there are so many other departments.”
She also demanded that no actual firearms be used on the stage going forward.
“Any weapon of any kind on any set that’s for storytelling should be a facsimile – a toy, basically,” Drescher said. “And then everything that looks explosive about it should be put in post. And then we never have to have this conversation again.”
The first time Baldwin will appear in court is on February 24. During the hearing, which will be live-streamed on YouTube, he might make a virtual appearance.
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