What You Should Know:
"There's no way this is legal...
Obviously, public urination is an offense you can be charged with.
Urinating in public is illegal in every state. Defendants may be charged under a law that specifically criminalizes the act, or the prosecutor may allege that the defendant presented a public nuisance or is guilty of disorderly conduct. A harsher approach is to charge defendants with indecent exposure or public lewdness, which are crimes that may require convicted defendants to register as a sex offender.
Many city and county criminal ordinances also prohibit public urination. A typical ordinance might prohibit urination “on any street, sidewalk, alley, plaza, park, beach public building or public facility, or any place open to the public or exposed to public view.” An ordinance with this kind of wording prohibits urination even on private property, if it’s visible from a public place.
Criminal Penalties for Conviction
State law usually classifies disorderly conduct and similar crimes as misdemeanors, which are less serious offenses than felonies. Penalties for a misdemeanor may include incarceration in county jail (for up to a year, except in Ohio, which allows misdemeanor sentences to extend to two years), payment of a fine, and community service. Penalties will be more severe if you’ve been convicted of prior offenses.
Violations of local ordinances are generally punishable by fines, community service, or both. Local governments set the amounts of the fines. A typical fine might be from $50 to $500, depending on the circumstances.
Public Urination and Sex Offender Registration
Prosecutors occasionally charge defendants with the crime of indecent exposure or public lewdness. If convicted, these defendants face the onerous duty of registering as sex offenders, a sentence that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Several states allow for such registration, including Arizona (involving minors and repeat crimes), Ariz. Rev. Stat. §13-3821; California, Cal. Penal Code § §314(1)-(2), 290; and Georgia (when done in view of a minor) Ga. Code Ann. § §42-1-12, 16-6-8.
See a Lawyer
If you've been charged with public urination, do not dismiss it as an inconsequential matter. A conviction for lewd conduct or disorderly conduct can have consequences, especially if you are charged again for such a crime and have this on your record. Consider consulting with an experienced, local criminal defense attorney, who will know how such cases are typically handled in the court that will hear your case, and can advise you as to your options. Never speak with the prosecutor or a prosecutor's investigator without having your lawyer at your side.