Public Urination Laws in California

September 30, 2022 by Madison Ferguson in California  
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Urinating in Public

As stated in Section 647 of the California Penal Code, urinating in public in California violates disorderly conduct. It might be a public nuisance violation under sections 370 and 372 of the California Penal Code. People arrested for urinating in public are those who demonstrate disruptive conduct, which is frequently the result of drinking. Section 314 of the California Penal Code allows public urinating to be prosecuted as indecent exposure, a more severe offense. However, lewd conduct has still been deemed a misdemeanor.

Why is it Against the Law to Pee in Public?

Some places in California have many problems with people urinating in public. There aren’t always enough public facilities in places where there are restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Even more so late at night. There are also more complaints about people urinating in public because there are more homeless people. Diseases and health problems get worse when people pee in public. Also, people who urinate in public make it hard for tourists and customers to do business.

Urinating In Public as Disorderly Behavior

Disrupting the peace and breach of the peace are two alternative terms for unruly behavior. According to Penal Code 647, disorderly conduct is any action or inaction that has the potential to provoke wrath, alarm, hurt or irritation in another person. In California, public drunkenness, prostitution, and other behaviors may all be considered disorderly. Law enforcement and the judicial system might consider it a public nuisance. Public urinating falls under the umbrella of disorderly conduct, and a prosecutor may opt to file charges against an offender if the act has a strong potential to disturb others.

To typically not considered unruly behavior if done inconspicuously and softly. Police are less likely to arrest someone for public urinating if they have evidence that the suspect engaged in other disorderly conduct, such as fighting or disrupting a public gathering. This is a misdemeanor, however, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines or six months in prison if convicted. The severity of these consequences may grow for consecutive convictions of disorderly behavior.

What Constitutes Indecent Exposure, if any, while Urinating in Public?

Indecent exposure is described as exposing one’s private parts in a public place or in the presence of anybody who may find such conduct unpleasant or bothersome under California Penal Code Section 314. The word “lewd” is central to California’s indecent exposure criminal code. When prosecuting someone for indecent exposure, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender intentionally and knowingly exposed their private parts obscenely or offensively.

Someone who urinates in public might face harsh consequences if their acts meet the legal threshold of indecent exposure. The California legal system considers this sexually explicit behavior a misdemeanor, punishing offenders with fines and maybe prison time. Trespassing to an occupied residence and then committing indecent exposure is punishable by up to a year in prison or county jail. Someone with prior convictions may be subject to harsher penalties.

Public Nuisance Offense

A person charged with or issued a citation for urinating in public may have violated a local code or state law as a public nuisance. Under California’s Penal Code Section 372, it is a misdemeanor to cause a public nuisance. Six months in prison, a maximum fine of $500, and probation are the maximum penalties for being a public nuisance. The punishment for violating a municipal or county law against public urinating is the same, except that the maximum fine is often $1,000.

Urination While Utilizing Public Transportation

It is unlawful to urinate in public when utilizing public transit. This violation has a maximum punishment of three months in jail and a $400 fine.

Defenses for Urinating in Public

The prosecuting attorney may drop the charges from a crime to a lesser offense. If you get a ticket, you don’t go to jail or get probation. Instead, the court could fine people between $100 and $500 and make them do community service. Some other defenses are:

  • Medical problems,
  • Old age, mental illness,
  • Being mistaken for someone else.

There are other ways to win your case apart from the mentioned ones. That’s why you should talk to a California criminal defense lawyer with a lot of experience about your options.

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Lara S.
December 3, 2019
Seppi had my case reduced to just an infraction, and thanks to him I was able to keep my job. Jorge was extremely helpful too, the reason I went with this law firm. Overall pleased.

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