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Justin Bieber paparazzo vows to fight charges

David Kestenbaum, attorney for Paul Raef, the paparazzo charged in connection with a high-speed chase involving Justin Bieber, speaks to the media on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012.

August 9, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A paparazzo charged in connection with a high-speed chase involving Justin Bieber is vowing to fight. His attorney claims the charges violate his client's First Amendment rights.

Arraignment was postponed on Thursday for Paul Raef, who prosecutors say chased Bieber on the 101 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley last month.

Raef was the first person to be charged under the 2010 state law that penalizes photographers for driving dangerously in an effort to take pictures for commercial gain. The 30-year-old photographer was also charged with reckless driving, failure to obey a peace officer and following another vehicle too closely.

But Raef's attorney David Kestenbaum says the new law is unconstitutional.

"I believe it violates the First Amendment right of news gatherers to get photographs," Kestenbaum said.

The law targets individuals who drive recklessly while trying to get a photograph to be sold for profit. It adds penalties: instead of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, it's six months in jail and $2,500.

But is it unconstitutional on the grounds that it unfairly aims at one class of people? Constitutional law professor Aaron Caplan says no, because anyone who takes a picture in the same reckless fashion could be prosecuted.

"Whether you are a professional photographer or an amateur, this law would still apply to you," he said.

Raef was not in court Thursday, but his girlfriend spoke to Eyewitness News. When asked how important it was to him to get the pictures, she responded, "Not super important, not enough to break the law."

Raef's attorney argues that celebrities have an option to pull over and call 911.

Raef's arraignment was postponed until Aug. 24. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail and a $3,500 fine.