On Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas Robinson threw out charges under California’s anti-paparazzi law against celebrity photographer Paul Raef. Incidentally, Raef was the first person in the state to be charged under the 2010 law that creates an offense for dangerous driving during commercial photography.
Raef had been charged in July with two counts of breaking the law over a July 6 incident where he was trying to photograph celebrity Canadian singer Justin Bieber.
While dismissing the charges, Judge Robinson observed that the anti-paparazzi law was overly inclusive and “sweeps very widely and would increase the penalties for reckless driving” even in cases where there were no intention to break the law. Robinson termed the law as “problematic” and vague in defining what ‘commercial photography’ is.
However, Raef still continues to face misdemeanor charges for reckless driving and ignoring police orders after pursuing Bieber at high speed.
In the same incident, Bieber was pulled over by the police for over-speeding and while receiving a speeding ticket, he told the police that he was trying to escape paparazzi.
The police noticed Raef’s car following Bieber’s, and later at a traffic stop Bieber called police to inform that Raef was still following him.
If convicted under the anti-paparazzi law, with each count allowing up to six months in jail, Raef could have been sentenced up to a year in prison on the two charges that were dismissed and fined up to $3500.