Update In Rust Investigation Suggests Alec Baldwin May Face Serious Legal Reckoning

The investigation into the October 2021 shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's "Rust," which resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, is finding new footing. While New Mexico's Office of the Medical Investigator determined that Hutchins' death was an accident, the legal ongoings have taken a new turn. 

Deadline is reporting that the "Saturday Night Live" actor's lawyer has provided a response to an August 30 note from Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies that requested $635,000 in funds from the New Mexico Board of Finance to prosecute up to four possible defendants involved in the incident on homicide charges — one of whom was named as Baldwin.

This confirmation from Deadline doesn't mean that Baldwin is facing charges or prison time, but it does make the situation more complicated. Now, two prominent lawyers from different firms are providing some insight into what could lie ahead.

Alec Baldwin could face charges, according to two lawyers

Los Angeles personal injury attorney Miguel Custodio, co-founder of Custodio and Dubey LLP, speculated that the district attorney's office is likely planning to charge any defendants with more than just violations of New Mexico's laws related to the handling of firearms. Custodio explained, "It clearly sounds like they're preparing for the prosecution of more serious criminal charges, such as manslaughter or criminal negligence. I've always thought that the longer the investigation took, the more likely it is that Baldwin will be hit with a weighty charge."

The lawyer further mentioned the FBI forensic report released in August, which concluded that Baldwin was the person who pulled the trigger on the gun that killed Halyna Hutchins. It should be noted, as of publication, that no charges have been brought against the actor.

Trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, pointed out that three of the four defendants are likely known already, based on what is said to have occurred on the set of the film. He stated, "Santa Fe's DA mentioned they would prosecute up to four people. We know of three certainly: the armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed who was responsible for maintaining firearms on set; Dave Halls, the assistant director who reportedly said it was a cold gun; and of course, Alec Baldwin." It should be noted, however, that the four defendants — except for Baldwin — have not yet been confirmed as of publications. 

Baldwin has maintained his stance amid ongoing legal proceedings

Alec Baldwin has previously expressed his thoughts following the death of Halyna Hutchins, but has maintained that he is not the one at fault for what occurred on the "Rust" set (via People).

Of the likelihood that Baldwin could face serious charges and even prison time, lawyer Neama Rahmani noted, "Involuntary manslaughter, which is likely the most serious offense they can charge Baldwin with, is a class D felony in New Mexico that carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison." Rahmani further explained, "Involuntary manslaughter in New Mexico is determined as the commission of the unlawful act which might produce death in an unlawful manner, without due caution and circumspection. If he were to go to trial and be convicted, I would expect the judge to sentence him to some time in jail, probably months."

Rahmani added that the district attorney's office pursuing the case will likely need an arsenal of resources, as Baldwin's "reputation and career" are on the line. 

"It's like trying to charge Donald Trump," Rahmani said of the actor known for bringing the former president to life — satirically — on "SNL." "If you bring a case like this, you better be prepared to see it through the whole way."