Alec Baldwin says involuntary manslaughter charge enhancement is ‘unlawful’

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Alec Baldwin has sought to have one of the charges of involuntary manslaughter, which could see him jailed for five years, thrown out by a US court.

Lawyers for the Hollywood actor argued that New Mexico prosecutors had committed an “unconstitutional and elementary legal error” by charging him under a statute that did not exist at the time of the fatal Rust shooting.

Baldwin was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter by the Santa Fe District Attorney’s office, over the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021.

Rust incident
Lawyers have sought to have one of the charges against Baldwin thrown out, saying prosecutors made an ‘unconstitutional and elementary legal error’ (Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office/PA)

The second charge is involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, which requires proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in a death, and includes a firearm enhancement, which makes the crime punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.

But in a filing on Friday, Baldwin’s lawyers said such enhancement had only been enacted last May, seven months after the incident, and that the charge was “unlawful”.

“The prosecutors in this case have committed an unconstitutional and elementary legal error by charging Mr Baldwin under a statute that did not exist on the date of the accident,” the motion read.

“It thus appears that the government intended to charge the current version of the firearm enhancement statute, which was not enacted until May 18, 2022, seven months after the accident.”

Baldwin is due to make his first appearance in US court in two weeks on February 24, to face the criminal charges.

It comes after a separate civil lawsuit was filed on Thursday by the family of Ms Hutchins.

The family are suing Baldwin and the Rust movie production company for alleged battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and loss of consortium.

Loss of consortium is a claim which seeks to recover compensation for damage to certain relationships that are mutually dependent.

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