By now, almost everyone knows that actor Alec Baldwin has been charged with involuntary manslaughter as a result of his firing what he thought was a prop gun at another cast member on the movie Rust, which was filed near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Tragically, the cast member died as the gun was loaded with a real bullet.
What Does Manslaughter Mean?
While murder generally means the intentional killing of another person, manslaughter requires a lesser mental state (mens rea for your legal junkies) of recklessness. At least under Arizona law, recklessness means that someone consciousness disregards a known risk of harm or danger. For purposes of a manslaughter charge, that recklessness must result in the death of another person.
Some examples of manslaughter include:
- A drunk driving fatality that is premised upon the driver consciously disregarding the known risk that driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs can affect one’s ability to drive and can endanger others on the road.
- A death that results from a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion.
- Punching someone so hard in the nose that bone fragments go into the brain resulting in death to the victim.
Why Was Alec Baldwin Charged?
This is where things get kind of weird. Prosecutors contend that:
- Alec Baldwin should have checked the gun before firing it, and
- As a producer of the film, safety shortcuts were taken that that could have prevented the death
Alec Baldwin’s criminal defense attorneys will undoubtedly argue that gun safety issues were the responsibility of the armorer or prop master. His expertise is in acting, not gun safety, and he reasonably trusted those on the set whose job it was to have that expertise and to implement appropriate safety protocols. As to his being liable as a producer of the film, prosecutors have not charged anyone else in the executive or management levels of the Rust’s production, so this prosecution theory will likely result in a big fat not guilty verdict.
Manslaughter Defense In Phoenix
Jason Lamm is one of Arizona’s most experienced criminal defense attorneys, particularly when it comes to defending manslaughter and murder charges. Jason has successfully tried numerous manslaughter trials to a jury; something that many criminal attorneys talk about, but have never actually done. Because manslaughter cases are complex, factually intensive, and often involve multiple areas of expert testimony, it’s imperative that someone who is charged with this type of crime have the absolute best criminal defense attorney available; particularly as a conviction for manslaughter in Arizona typically carries stiff mandatory sentences.
If you, or someone close to you, has been charged with, or is being investigated for manslaughter, Jason Lamm is available for confidential consultations and can be reached at (602) 663-9100. Not calling one of one of Phoenix’s most experienced criminal defense attorneys if you are in a situation like this would just be reckless.