Justin Bieber Chase Lead to Anti-Paparazzi Law Prosecution for Photog?

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on July 18, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Justin Bieber's chase on a Los Angeles freeway last week could set the stage for the first-ever prosecution under California's anti-paparazzi law.

Bieber, 18, got a ticket for reckless driving over 80 mph in his shiny Fisker Karma. Paparazzi were in hot pursuit of the pop icon, the witness who called 911 told the Los Angeles Times. That witness just so happens to be a Los Angeles city councilman.

"Any time you do 90, the paparazzi are going to go 90," the councilman told the paper. So what may allow prosecutors to press charges against at the paparazzi?

The highway patrol officer's report about the Justin Bieber chase described at least one car pursuing the performer, Reuters reports. Based on that information, the city attorney's office is considering charges.

The alleged paparazzo, who has not been identified, may be charged under California's anti-paparazzi law. The law (approved in 2010) makes it a misdemeanor to drive recklessly "with the intent to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of another person for a commercial purpose."

If prosecuted and convicted under the anti-paparazzi law, a paparazzo can face up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. The same bill also increased penalties for paparazzi who block sidewalks, and thus falsely imprison celebrities for profit.

Now, intent is a key element of the anti-paparazzi law. And this may be where the paparazzo's potential criminal defense lawyer might focus her arguments. That is, if this first-ever prosecution takes place. That could turn this otherwise mundane Justin Bieber chase into a historic milestone in celebrity justice.

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