Taking a celebrity's photo could land you in jail!

You enjoy your career as a journalist, photographer, or reporter, and you'll do almost anything to get the scoop. You follow ethical rules of your profession and know when to draw the line. But there are those who do not. They are the Paparazzi.

Paparazzi - Be careful how you acquire your story or photos, or you could end up in jail, convicted of a felony or misdemeanor! More than ever celebrities are fighting back against invasion of privacy, charging overly-aggressive paparazzi with criminal trespassing, assault, false imprisonment, stalking, and battery.

Paparazzi – "Celebrity hunters," usually not professional press nor legitimate photographers, who use aggressive and intrusive tactics to videotape, photograph, record, or otherwise invade the privacy of the rich and famous and their families for purposes of financial gain from the sale of their illegally-obtained paparazzi photos and paparazzi video images.

California Civil Law

The nation's first civil anti-paparazzi law went into effect in California on January 1, 1999. This protects celebrities against physical invasion of privacy where a trespass occurs, and constructive invasion of privacy, where no trespass occurs but an audio- or video-enhancing device is used to violate a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, this law apparently wasn't enough to thwart paparazzi activities so on September 30, 2005, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law an anti-paparazzi bill to punish Paparazzi for assaults and altercations caused by their attempts to photograph celebrities. The new law expands the Anti-Paparazzi Act, Section 1708.8 of the Civil Code, tripling the damages that may be awarded to a celebrity, and denies photographers the right to profit from images illegally taken during intrusions.

California Criminal Law Criminal

Paparazzi beware! A civil lawsuit is bad enough, but now celebrities are bringing criminal charges against those who invade their privacy. In California paparazzi photographers have a First Amendment right to photograph celebrities and other public figures in public places. However, if these paparazzi photographers use aggressive tactics to capture those pictures and break the law, the paparazzi photographer could be facing criminal charges for:

  • Assault - An unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another (California Penal Code 240). An Assault is charged as a misdemeanor.
  • Assault With a Deadly Weapon (California Penal Code 245(a)(1)) -
    Assault on another person with a deadly weapon or with force likely to cause great bodily harm (weapon must not be a firearm, but can be blunt instruments like clubs, baseball bats, rocks, cars, or even a camera). An Assault with a Deadly Weapon or ADW can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Recent high profile cases of Assault with a Deadly Weapon occurred when paparazzi used their vehicles to put the safety of the pursued subject in jeopardy.
  • Battery - Any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another (California Penal Code 242). (Battery is both a tort and a crime. A defendant sued for a tort is civilly liable to the plaintiff for damages; punishment for battery includes jail and a fine).
  • Conspiracy - An agreement or intent between two or more persons to engage jointly in a criminal act. (Double trouble! A person may be charged with the agreement and intent, and then charged separately for committing the illegal act.) Conspiracy occurs when two paparazzi photographers plan a trespass to get a celebrity photo at the celebrity's home. The actual paparazzi taking the photo may be caught and convicted of the trespass and the person who assisted the paparazzi with the photograph could also be charged and convicted for trespass.
  • False Imprisonment - Unlawful violation of the freedom of movement of another. False Imprisonment is also referred to as False Arrest and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony (Penal Code Section 236).
  • Stalking - Criminal activity comprising credible threats, repeated following and harassing of another person, with intent to instill fear or injury (California Penal Code 646.9). Stalking may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in California.
  • Trespass - An unlawful intrusion that interferes with a person or property (e.g., stalking a celebrity's children while they are at school; breaking into their home; using a telephoto lens to take photos of celebrities while they are sunbathing at home; crashing a private funeral and taking pictures). A conviction for trespassing is a misdemeanor which can cause 6 months of jail and a $1000 fine.

Paparazzi Defense

If you are charged with any of the above-mentioned crimes during your work as a professional photographer, immediately hiring an experienced Paparazzi criminal defense attorney is critical to a successful defense. A skilled and experienced attorney involved early in the process can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case and can prepare your defense. If you are under investigation for a paparazzi crime do not talk your way out of the situation. Talking to law enforcement without consulting an attorney first is a mistake.

Los Angeles Paparazzi Attorneys

We are Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys focusing exclusively on criminal defense and we aggressively defend those accused of criminal offenses in California. We have over 90 years combined criminal experience and know how to get the best possible results for our clients. If you are a paparazzi and being charged with the above paparazzi crimes please contact us to discuss your case.

Don't settle for a "guilty" plea. Being convicted of a crime in California can lead to jail, hefty fines and a criminal record. Let Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners, a team of experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys, represent you in court.Call us now for a FREE CONSULTATION. (Los Angeles cases only).