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Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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Charges against paparazzo involved in Justin Bieber incident thrown out

Last week, a judge threw out criminal charges filed against a photographer accused of driving dangerously while attempting to take photos of pop star Justin Bieber.

Reports indicate that the photographer was caught driving at high speeds on a Los Angeles freeway back in July, and was subsequently charged under a California vehicle traffic law that criminalizes aggressive and dangerous driving done for the sake of taking commercial photos. In fact, he was the first member of the paparazzi to be prosecuted under the law, which went into effect back in 2010.

Here, the judge threw out the two counts against the photographer, calling the law "overly inclusive," "vague" and "problematic." Specifically, he pointed out that the law as currently written is excessively broad and increases the penalties for reckless driving.

In addition, the judge indicated that the law's definition of commercial photography was perhaps unclear in that it could conceivably be used to charge a photographer caught speeding on their way to an arranged photo shoot.

The decision is undoubtedly a big blow to proponents of the new law. If the judge had upheld the convictions, the photographer would have faced up to one year in prison and up to $3,500 in fines.

It should be noted, however, that the photographer still has to deal with a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving and failing to obey police orders. However, those charges are far less serious and carry relatively minor penalties.

As for Justin Bieber, he was pulled over the same day for driving 80 miles-per-hour through a 65 miles-per-hour zone. At the time he was pulled over, Bieber informed police that he was being pursued by photographers, and called half an hour later to confirm to police that he was still being followed.

The singing sensation received a speeding ticket in the case and has not yet commented on the judge's decision.

Stay tuned for updates our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...

If you or a loved one has received a speeding ticket or traffic citation, don't just dismiss it. Instead, consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Source:

The Chicago Tribune, "Judge throws out Justin Bieber paparazzo chase case," Nov. 14, 2012

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