A paparazzo charged with reckless driving following a high-speed car chase with Justin Bieber will plead not guilty to the allegations.
Paul Raef was booked on multiple traffic counts last month after the pop superstar identified the snapper as the alleged leader of a pack of photographers who tailed Bieber's Fisker Karma sports car as he sped along California's 101 Freeway in an attempt to escape the crowd.
The freelance snapper, who reportedly fled the scene of the crime when the singer was pulled over, was hit with four charges under a 2010 Los Angeles paparazzi law, which makes it a crime to create a dangerous situation while in pursuit of a celebrity for profit.
The case was heard in court on Thursday, when Raef's lawyer, David Kestenbaum, asked the judge to dismiss the counts. He claimed his client is no different from a news reporter covering a breaking story and therefore should be protected under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment right to freedom of the press, according to TMZ.com.
The judge declined to immediately rule on the defence's request and postponed arraignment until August 24.
Raef is the first person to be prosecuted on the new charge of reckless driving with the intent to capture pictures for commercial gain. He also faces a count of following another vehicle too closely, one regular charge of reckless driving and one of failing to obey the lawful order of a peace officer.
He faces up to a year behind bars and a fine of $3,500 if convicted.
Bieber received a speeding ticket following the car chase.