Sean Penn charged in clash with LA photographer

Fri Feb 19, 2010 4:51pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar-winner Sean Penn, as infamous for problems with paparazzi as he is famous for acting, has been charged with two crimes after a run-in with a photographer last year and could face jail time if convicted, Los Angeles prosecutors said on Friday.

Penn, 49, was charged with misdemeanor battery and vandalism after allegedly kicking a photographer in the leg and breaking his camera last October at an upscale shopping center in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles, the city attorney's office said.

The incident was caught on video and shown on celebrity news website

Penn, who won Oscars for his roles in "Mystic River" and the 2008 movie "Milk," faces a maximum of 18 months behind bars if convicted, city attorney's office spokesman Frank Matelijan said. He is due to make a first court appearance on March 22.

Los Angeles County prosecutors had earlier declined to file charges against Penn, saying they did not believe the case merited felony charges.

Penn has long been an adversary of the paparazzi, and is well-known for allowing his temper to flare. In 1987, he served more than 30 days in jail for assaulting an extra on a film set. In 2006 he attacked a paparazzo at his brother's funeral.

He also faced a domestic assault complaint during his marriage to pop star Madonna, which ended in divorce in 1989.

Penn made news last year after breaking up with his wife, actress Robin Wright Penn, briefly reconciling and then being served with divorce papers in August 2009.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Todd Eastham)