Justin Bieber Car Chase Charges Dismissed by Judge
Justin Bieber hasn't had much luck behind the wheel. In addition to being pulled over on Wednesday (Nov. 13), a judge dismissed two out of the four charges against a photographer who allegedly chased the singer through Los Angeles in July.
Paul Raef was charged for four misdemeanors, including "reckless driving, failing to obey a peace officer, and two counts of following another vehicle too closely and reckless driving with the intent to capture pictures for commercial gain," reports the L.A. Times.
The photographer was booked after the 18-year-old identified the him as the main photographer in a group of paparazzi, who were allegedly following the singer in his Fisker Karma on the 101 Freeway four months ago. In 2010, California passed its paparazzi law, which issues harsher penalties to those who break traffic laws or interfere with the operation of a celebrity’s car to snap photo.
Although the case went to court in August, the decision was delayed until Wednesday when Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas Rubinson dismissed the two charges related to the paparazzi law for being over-inclusive and violating First Amendment rights.
"The judge said that when you are talking about people doing their job and yet running the risk of additional criminal punishment, it has a chilling effect from anyone from newsgathers to wedding photographers and even real estate agents," Raef's attorney David S. Kestenbaum said. "It just a lesson in constitutional law."
Bieber felt unsafe this summer when he was allegedly being tailed by a group of photographers. The pop star called 911 while driving and said, “I have like five cars following me … They’re driving really reckless. They will not stop following me.”
If found guilty of the two charges, Raef could have been sentenced with up to one year behind bars and a fine of $3,500. The photographer still faces two traffic charges, which bear the consequence of six months in county jail.
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