Great news for Halle Berry and the many celebrity parents in California.
After years of fighting to redefine the definition of harassment according to California State law, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Berry's paparazzi bill, Senate Bill 606, aimed at protecting the privacy of the children of public figures, in Sacramento yesterday (Sept. 24).
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, a paparazzo convicted of harassing a minor who has been singled out due to his or her parent's profession (famous actors, singers, reality TV stars, politicians, etc.) can spend up to a year in jail -- which is raised from six months previously. Fines can also be imposed, including $10,000 for the first violation, $20,000 for the second, and up to $30,000 for the third. The law also allows the parent or guardian of the child being harassed to seek civil liability.
“Kids shouldn’t be tabloid fodder nor the target of ongoing harassment,” Sen. Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles said, adding that the bill "will give children, no matter who their parent is, protection from harassers who go to extremes to turn a buck.”
Berry was joined by Jennifer Garner in August to testify before California lawmakers, claiming that photographers follow them around wherever they go and taunt their children. (Berry is married to fellow actor Olivier Martinez, while Garner is the wife of actor Ben Affleck).
"I am forever in awe of the support I got within my community from the enormously talented musician Adele to fellow actor, Jennifer Garner, who traveled with me to Sacramento to share her children's stories, experience, and her desire to give them a better life," Berry said in a statement. "I'm grateful to Nia Vardalos and the numerous parents who work as actors, musicians, as well as professionals in medicine, mental health, lawyers, judges, and cops who have experienced their children being harassed, tormented or otherwise put in dangerous situations due to their parent's profession and therefore lent their support."
"It is for all of us that I rejoice today and hope that this fight will continue and that the proper enforcement of this law will truly make a positive impact on the daily lives of all children," she concluded.
Fellow actress and mom Sandra Bullock also spoke out about the bill, telling "Entertainment Tonight," “It was passed! I didn't know it was passed! Are you kidding? That is amazing! [Before] we [were] fair game, do whatever you want to us, it [was] almost like child slave labor, it shouldn't be photographed and sold. Let them be kids, don't let them live in fear. If they turn 18 and want to be an actor, they've dug their own grave on that one. [Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner] went out and fought hard for it, and we're grateful.”