On Thursday, 21st of October, 2021 news filled the air that an American actor; Alec Baldwin shot and killed a cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins and a director of the movie, Joel Souza on a movie set while they were shooting a movie scene. The cinematographer died before she was airlifted to the nearest hospital while the director who was standing close to the cinematographer survived but sustained injuries.
The actor, Mr Alec Baldwin who is an A list Hollywood actor is loved by many for his movies and topnotch acting skills mostly as a crime boss, he may likely go scot free for this incident (unlike people expected especially the lovers of the victims) because according to police investigations, he was handed over a prop gun for the scene without knowing that the prop gun contained some life ammunition’s, so this is clearly a case of a honest mistake on his part.
When an honest mistake is made and it results to death of another then it will be a case of manslaughter as distinguished from murder. Manslaughter can said to have taken place when there’s is no intent to kill or a premeditated plan to kill but death happened anyway, intent in law is called (mensrea) while the action is called ; actus res. When there’s both an intent to kill (mensrea) added with the actual action of killing (actus res), then murder is said to have been committed because it was premeditated.
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In the charge for murder or manslaughter, what the court looks at is if there’s an premeditated plan or thought which is called (mensrea) to carry out the killing. When the jury or the judge determines that there’s was no mensrea, then the charge for murder will be dropped (which in most cases carries a capital punishment) for the charge of manslaughter which carries a lesser punishment.
Going back to the case Alec Baldwin, according to the police investigation, the killing of the cinematographer is not premeditated, neither was it planned, so legally he cannot be charged for murder since there was no mensrea to commit the crime. So the actor may soon be a free man and will likely not be heavily punished for the honest mistake.