10:53 AM PT -- Nick tweeted about the incident, saying, "Last night, after enjoying a great dinner with my wife and our dear friend, the paparazzi harassed us as we walked back to our hotel. I clearly overreacted. I've been in this game long enough to know that their antics are sadly part of the deal. Stupid of me. Done."
Nick Lachey got violent toward a photographer during his night out ... reaching in her car and trying to rip the phone out of her hands.
Nick and his wife, Vanessa, went out to eat at Mastro's in Beverly Hills Sunday night ... after seeing a photog taking pics of him from her car, he made his way across the street, allegedly punching her window and calling her a "p**** mother f*****." Vanessa was yelling for her to open her car door.
After he walked away, the photographer puts her window down and asks him what's his problem, making him dart back to the car. After noticing her filming him, he quickly reaches into the car and tries to pry the phone from her hands.
Later in the night, Nick was with Vanessa and another woman, walking back to a hotel ... Nick was yelling and sticking his middle finger up to photogs as they walked by.
The photographer claimed she could smell alcohol on his breath ... a possible factor in his erratic behavior.
Sunday night showed a similar situation with celebrity violence ... as you recall, Will Smith walked on stage at the Oscars, slapping Chris Rock across the face after a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith set him off.
We reached out to Nick's rep ... so far, no word back.