Justin Bieber Photog JUSTIFIES Car Chase

8/9/2012 9:56 AM PDT

Justin Bieber Photog Justifies Car Chase

The paparazzo who has been criminally charged with chasing Justin Bieber down the 101 Freeway last month will plead not guilty, claiming it's the same situation as a news reporter rushing to a fire.

Photog Paul Raef's lawyer, David Kestenbaum, tells TMZ ... his client is no different than a traditional news reporter covering a breaking story, and therefore he has a constitutional right to chase it.

Raef is the first person charged under California's new "Paparazzi Law," enhancing the punishment when a photog creates a dangerous situation for profit.

Kestenbaum tells TMZ, Raef will challenge the new law, presumably on grounds that it violates his First Amendment right to freedom of the press.

After today's hearing, David told reporters it's unfair Bieber got off with just a speeding ticket, while his client now faces a reckless driving charge. 

10:26AM PST:  Kestenbaum just asked the judge to dismiss the charges. The judge has not ruled.  Raef did not enter a plea.