ACCUSED actor Alec Baldwin could dodge jail time for the deadly shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins after his charges were reduced.
The Sante Fe County District Attorney announced on Monday that Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed no longer face an extra firearm charge that could have put him behind bars for five years.
The 30 Rock actor stands accused of manslaughter in the 2021 death of Ukrainian filmmaker Hutchins on the New Mexico set of the now-paused movie Rust.
Baldwin killed Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza when a loaded prop gun he was holding fired on set.
The actor maintains his innocence and claims that he was told the revolver he was handed was "cold," meaning it did not contain actual ammunition.
Prosecutors hit him with charges that could have resulted in 18 months in prison, including a provision that could add an additional five years max for committing a crime with a gun.
However, his lawyers argued that an updated version of the extra charge, called a firearm enhancement, was wrongfully included.
The attorneys claimed the version applied to Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed was passed months after the fatal shooting and argued they should instead be held accountable for an earlier enhancement.
The version prosecutors put on the New Mexico books applies whenever a firearm is discharged, the New York Times reports.
But Baldwin's team argued that the prior version stated the weapon had to be "brandished," meaning it was shown off in a way to intimidate the victim.
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They claimed this didn't apply to Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed, and prosecutors begrudgingly reduced the charges to "avoid further litigious distractions by Mr Baldwin and his attorneys."
"The prosecution's priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys," said DA spokeswoman Heather Brewer.
With this enhancement dropped, Baldwin still faces a maximum of 18 months in prison, but this could be lessened or reduced to just probation.
A lawyer representing Gutierrez-Reed, who supervised weapons on the since-halted Netflix film, argued that the version could also not apply to her as she wasn't holding the gun during the fatal shooting.
Prosecutors are instead accusing her of negligent behavior for allowing a gun with live rounds to make it to Baldwin's hands.
She has argued, however, that she checked every round in the revolver that day.
Now, state attorneys have filed a claim for the jury to decide which definition of involuntary manslaughter applies to Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed if they are found guilty.
Meanwhile, the film's assistant director, David Halls, has already pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in a deal with prosecutors.
It was Halls who had handed Baldwin the gun in the final moments of Hutchins' life, declaring it "cold" – or unloaded – before the fateful shot was fired, according to court documents.
The deal includes a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
Hilaria Baldwin, the actor's wife, opened up on her podcast, Witches Anonymous, on her husband's dilemma for the first time last month saying, "It's been an emotional time for my family."
Following the incident, a distraught Baldwin was seen sobbing outside a local police station after authorities questioned him.
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Baldwin, who was also a co-producer on Rust, has described the killing as a tragic accident.
The 64-year-old actor said he was told the gun was safe and has sought to clear his name by suing people involved in handling and supplying the loaded .45-caliber revolver.
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