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Is Public Urination a Crime in California?

September 10, 2019

You may be charged with a number of offenses if you urinate in public in California

Is Public Urination a Crime in California?

You may not think that it’s a big deal, especially if you have had a few drinks — you find a place to quietly and discreetly relieve yourself, seeing as how there are no bathrooms in sight. The next thing that you know, there are police sirens flashing and you find yourself in handcuffs. Can you really be arrested for public urination in California?

The answer is yes — and no. According to a criminal attorney Los Angeles, CA, there is not a specific law in California against public urination, except on public transportation (if the behavior was a result of a disability, age, or medical condition, then it is not a criminal offense). However, many city and county ordinances do prohibit public urination. For example, in Los Angeles, it is a misdemeanor offense to urinate in public, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 6 months in jail.

Yet even though there isn’t a specific law that addresses public urination outside of public transportation, you could still be charged with a criminal offense for this behavior. First, you may be charged with disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor offense that may lead to a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 6 months in jail. Disorderly conduct involves actions or behavior that could cause anger, alarm, injury or annoyance to others.

Alternatively, you could be charged with creating a public nuisance. Under this law, it is a crime to maintain or commit any public nuisance, or willing omit to perform any legal duty related to the removal of a public nuisance. In 2006, a California court held that public urination is a public nuisance. Under California law, a public nuisance is anything that (1) is injurious to health, indecent, offensive to the senses or an obstruction to the free use of property; and (2) interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property by an entire community or neighborhood, or by any considerable number of persons. As with disorderly conduct, public nuisance is a misdemeanor offense. It is punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Beyond charges directly related to public urination, you may also face arrest for public intoxication (“drunk and disorderly”) or related offenses. It is important to consult with an experienced criminal attorney Los Angeles, CA as soon as possible after you are arrested. Although these crimes may be misdemeanors, they still can carry significant consequences.

If you have been charged with a California criminal offense, the Chambers Law Firm can help. As a former prosecutor, attorney Dan E. Chambers understands how the system works from both sides — and he puts that knowledge to work for you. Contact our firm today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation or to learn more.

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