New Mexico prosecutors have dropped an enhancement on an involuntary manslaughter charge faced by Alec Baldwin, which could have seen him jailed for five years.
The Santa Fe district attorney’s office said the decision had been made “in order to avoid further litigious distractions” by Baldwin and his legal team.
The Hollywood actor was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter by the DA’s office, over the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021.
The first charge can be referred to as involuntary manslaughter and requires proof of underlying negligence.
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.
The latter charge previously included a firearm enhancement, which would make the crime punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.
Baldwin previously filed a motion seeking to have one of the charges dropped, with his lawyers arguing the enhancement was “unconstitutional” – as the charge was brought under a statute that did not exist at the time of the fatal shooting.
The DA’s office said it would review the motion, but that the motion was an attempt by Baldwin and his “fancy attorneys” to “distract from the gross negligence”.
In a new statement on Monday, a spokesperson said: “In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr Baldwin and his attorneys, the district attorney and the special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the Rust film set.
“The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys.”
Baldwin is due to appear for the first time in a US court on Friday.
He also faces a separate civil lawsuit, filed on February 9th 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.