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I Was Arrested for Public Urination – Fines, Penalties, Costs, and Sentencing


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Though public urination is illegal in all 50 states, there is no consensus on penalties or even on whether the offense has its own statute. Some states prosecute is as disorderly conduct, whereas others prosecute it under indecent exposure laws. This second option may result in the defendant being placed on the sex offender registry.

Even if your state has no definite law against public urination, the chances are high that your locality does. Typically, these statutes forbid urinating on streets, sidewalks, buildings, alleyways, parks, plazas, and beaches.

What are the Penalties for Disorderly Conduct?

Many states prosecute public urination as disorderly conduct, which usually encompasses the public performance of any behavior typically performed in private.

Most states punish disorderly conduct as a misdemeanor, with aggravating factors possibly pushing the charge into felony territory. Common penalties include:

  • Fines: The most common punishment is fines, which typically max out at $1,000 for a first offense misdemeanor. You may receive only a fine, or a fine plus incarceration or probation.
  • Probation: Probation is also common for misdemeanor charges, especially first offenses. You may receive probation in lieu of jail time or in addition to it. Terms typically include remaining crime-free and meeting with a probation officer. Failure to meet the terms of your probation may lead to either jail time or an increased term of probation.
  • Incarceration: Though most states include maximum sentences of 12 months, shorter sentences are more common. You may also receive a sentence of time served, especially for a first offense. Multiple offenses are more likely to receive jail time, as are felony convictions

What are the Penalties for Indecent Exposure or Public Lewdness?

This is a much harsher charge to face due to the fact that conviction typically requires registering as a sex offender. States that charge public urination as indecent exposure include Arizona, California, and Georgia.

Penalties are similar to those imposed by a conviction for disorderly conduct.

What are the Penalties for Public Urination in Nevada?

Classified as a misdemeanor, penalties actually vary by city.

  • Henderson: Maximum fine of $1,000; maximum sentence of 6 months
  • Las Vegas: Minimum fine of $100, maximum fine of $1,000; maximum sentence of 6 months
  • North Las Vegas: Maximum fine of $500; maximum sentence of 6 months
  • Reno: Maximum fine of $1,000, maximum sentence of 6 months

Due to aggravating factors, such as whether minors were present, the charge may be indecent exposure.

  • First offense: Maximum fine of $2,000; maximum sentence of 364 days; possible sex offender registration
  • Two or more offenses: Maximum fine of $5,000; minimum sentence of 1 year and maximum sentence of 5 years; possible sex offender registration

Nevada classifies indecent exposure as Tier 0 and Tier 1 sex offenses. People convicted under Tier 0 or Tier 1 are not publicly searchable on the sex offender registry.

What are the Penalties for Public Urination in Michigan?

The state of Michigan prosecutes under indecent exposure statutes, which forbids exposing your "person" to another. This is a misdemeanor with two common penalties: incarceration of 1 year plus $1,000 in fines or incarceration of 2 years plus $2,000 in fines.

Michigan prosecutors have two statutes referencing indecent exposure. The first references exposure of your person; the second references disorderly conduct by a person performing obscene or indecent conduct in public. Public urination applies to both.

What are the Penalties for Public Urination in California?

The only state statute specifically mentioning public urination is one forbidding it in public transportation. In all other areas, it is typically charged as disorderly conduct, though aggravating factors such as whether minors were present may result in a public lewdness charge.

Many local ordinances forbid public urination specifically, including urination on private property if that property is viewable from a public place.

The charge is typically a misdemeanor. Penalties include:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Community service

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Though typically classified as a misdemeanor, a conviction for public urination can have lifelong consequences, particularly if you are charged with indecent exposure or public lewdness. Registration as a sex offender is permanent, and severely limits your ability to find a job or a place to live. If you were arrested for public urination, request a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney. He or she will discuss the particulars of your case and offer advice on next steps.

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