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Punishment for Public Urination in California

Posted in Criminal Defense on June 29, 2019

Urinating in public is generally not a crime in the state of California. California does not have a statute that specifically bars a person from urinating in public places, other than a statute (California Penal Code Section 640) prohibiting it in public transportation vehicles, such as trains or buses. Yet in certain circumstances, an officer may detain an individual for publicly urinating under a charge such as disorderly conduct or indecent exposure. In these cases, the punishments for public urination can be serious.

Public Urination as Disorderly Conduct

Section 647 of the Penal Code defines disorderly conduct as any act or behavior that could cause anger, alarm, injury, or annoyance to others. Other phrases for disorderly conduct are disturbing the peace and a breach of the peace. Many different actions could qualify as disorderly conduct in California, from public intoxication to engaging in prostitution. A prosecutor may decide to press charges against an individual for public urination under the definition of disorderly conduct if the act has a high likelihood of upsetting others. The courts may also see it as creating a public nuisance.

In most cases, the police will not arrest someone for public urination unless that person is also guilty of other acts of disorderly conduct, such as picking fights or other disruptive behaviors in public. If an individual quietly and discretely urinates in public, this will generally not constitute the crime of disorderly conduct. A conviction for this crime, however, is a misdemeanor with penalties of up to $1,000 in fines and/or six months in jail. These penalties may increase for subsequent disorderly conduct convictions.

If you were accused of disorderly conduct and have questions regarding your case, contact a criminal defense lawyer in Fontana. The Law Offices of Graham Donath serve several locations including Riverside, Ontario, San Cucamonga, Moreno Valley and Corona.

Is Urinating in Public Indecent Exposure?

It is even more rare than a disorderly conduct charge for an individual to face charges of indecent exposure simply for urinating in public. However, some police officers in some situations could place a person under arrest for this alleged crime. California Penal Code Section 314 states that indecent exposure is the act of willfully and lewdly exposing one’s private parts in any public place, or in the presence of anyone who may find the act offensive or annoying.

The key term in California’s indecent exposure penal law is lewd. To convict someone of indecent exposure, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person lewdly exposed his or her private parts, or exposed them in a crude and offensive sexual way. If the prosecution cannot prove that the exposure of the genitals was intentionally lewd, the courts typically will not convict the defendant of indecent exposure. The courts may dismiss the charges instead for lack of sufficient evidence.

If the actions of the individual who was urinating in public fulfill the definition of indecent exposure, he or she could face serious penalties. California courts punish people for this lewd act with a misdemeanor charge, fines, and potential jail time. A felony conviction for indecent exposure after trespassing in an inhabited dwelling could result in up to one year in a state prison or county jail. An individual could face more severe punishments if he or she already has a criminal history. It is important to consult with a defense attorney if you are facing any type of charge or allegation for urinating in public in California.