Actor Alec Baldwin, now charged in New Mexico with involuntary manslaughter and a second charge of reckless disregard of safety without due caution and circumspection, which is a more serious offense, made a terrible mistake – he abandoned the Fifth Amendment protection and started talking during a police interview
The session continued for 34 minutes and 57 seconds in discussing the October 2021 shooting death of cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, during a rehearsal in filming a western movie, Rust
In a small room at the police station, Baldwin sat in a corner while a woman detective read his Constitutional rights. She told him that he does not have to talk to authorities. That anything he says will be used against him. That he has the right to have an attorney present during questioning. That he can stop the interview at any time. And that if he cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed.
These are known as Miranda rights, stemming from an Arizona arrest some 60 odd years ago, that protects all of us against governmental overreach. Taking “the Fifth” is the first line of defense and authorities must stop asking questions.
After informing him of his Constitutional rights, the detective asks Baldwin if he has any questions. “My only question is am I being charged with something? Almost everyone knows that these rights are recited to someone at the moment of being arrested. The detective answers, “No. This is an investigation.” The detective told him reading his rights is a “formality.”
Baldwin began talking about what happened and explaining what he did in those moments before and after the 6-shot revolver holding .45-caliber bullets fired hitting Hutchins.
Baldwin began, potentially, convicting himself by ignoring his right to remain silent and failing to have an attorney in the room with him.
Second police interview
In a second interview Baldwin said assistant director Dave Halls actually handed him the weapon announcing “cold gun.” Halls has entered into a plea agreement for dangerous use of a deadly weapon. He could be placed on six months of probation with a suspended sentence.
It is not unheard of that some suspects want to help an investigation and are willing to talk without realizing the consequences. Some people think they can talk themselves out of a situation during a police interview.
But nothing in favor of the suspect ends up in the police report. Investigators are only interested in winning a criminal case.
Building a comfort zone
A person who is engaged in a conversation with law enforcement can be put at ease, but not for their own good. Talking may put the suspect in an open frame of mind and they may not know that what they are saying could reveal information of some wrongdoing.
Law enforcement members are allowed to lie to suspects before, during, and after arrest. What they cannot do is threaten a suspect into making a confession.
Investigators have no interest in siding with a defendant’s version of an event or exculpatory evidence, which is favorable to the suspect. No matter how much they say they are open minded or want to help, they are not. They are interested only in taking a strong case, built on the evidence they have developed, to the prosecution to win a conviction.
Baldwin talking to investigators and media outlets is likely to raise contradictions he must explain if he decides to testify. Baldwin has already settled a civil lawsuit with Hutchins’ family. But the level of proof in civil cases is a mere preponderance of the evidence, while criminal cases must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
New Mexico’s involuntary manslaughter punishments
A New Mexico involuntary manslaughter charge is defined as ”committing a lawful act that might produce death in an unlawful manner or without due caution and circumspection.”
Baldwin is charged under New Mexico Statute § 30-2-3 B
and is facing a Fourth Degree felony which is punished by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted. New Mexico prosecutors added a second charge of firearm enhancement, which increases the penalty to a mandatory five years in state prison, but prosecutors dropped the enhancement on Feb. 20.
In defending an involuntary manslaughter charge, the defense must show that the death was accidental and that the defendant was not acting in a reckless manner or with criminal negligence. His defense team will fight the charges for Baldwin to win.
Do not rush to judgement. He is innocent until proven guilty under law.
The defenses for involuntary manslaughter in New Mexico are that he did not act negligently; and that the event occurred during a rehearsal, and the expectation is the revolver was not loaded. He could not have reasonably known a live round was in the revolver, so criminal negligence is not met.
His defense team will conduct its own investigation looking for errors in legal procedures and have said they will fight the charge and win.
Aaron M. Black Law for involuntary manslaughter defense
The Baldwin case shows that agreeing to be interviewed without legal representation is harmful to the case and the defendant’s life.
Should you, a loved one, or a friend be charged or are under investigation for a criminal offense, it is imperative that you be represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney such as myself to ensure that your civil rights are protected.
I will conduct an independent investigation of the prosecution’s evidence, looking for faults and omissions and the performance record of the investigators in the state’s case.
I work hard to ensure you have the best defense possible and support and encouragement during the process.
At Aaron M. Black Law, clients will receive personalized legal services and will always be talking directly to me, never an assistant, at every stage of the case.
Begin your defense immediately by calling 480-729-1683 to have legal representation before entering into an investigation to protect your civil rights. Call any time on any day, and I will respond promptly unless I am in court or at trial. Or use the online contact form
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I defend criminal charges throughout Arizona, including Maricopa, Pinal, Yavapai, and Coconino County Superior Courts.