Alarmed by what they say is a new generation of paparazzi willing to take dangerous risks to get celebrity photos, Los Angeles officials say they may file felony conspiracy charges. Prosecutors have been exploring the possibility of bringing conspiracy cases against individuals or companies they believe may be orchestrating some of the riskiest photo ambushes. “There is a very real concern that this type of behavior may constitute a danger to the victimized celebrity and others,” said William Hodgman of the district attorney’s target crimes unit. “We are aware that vehicles are used quite often in efforts to stalk celebrities. We also are aware of numerous incidents where the celebrity and or others had children with them who were put in jeopardy.”
Officials cite two recent cases involving teen star Lindsay Lohan and Reese Witherspoon, known for her lead role in the “Legally Blonde” movies. On April 16, Witherspoon said was followed by paparazzi from a gym and her car was hemmed in outside a gated community. On May 31, police arrested a paparazzi firm employee for using his minivan to ram Lohan’s Mercedes-Benz as she tried to make a U-turn. Prosecutors are asking whether the photographers are working together to force celebrities off the road. First Amendment protections shield paparazzi, many of whom consider misdemeanor violations the cost of doing business. Celebrities may be reluctant to press charges – well aware of the symbiotic relationship they have with the celebrity press.