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Is Urinating in Public Really a Crime?

October 12, 2018

After an evening out at the bar with friends, it’s perfectly natural to feel nature’s call. But do take the extra time to find a bathroom instead of watering the landscaping. Although it might seem like a relatively harmless act, urinating in public is really a crime that can lead to serious consequences.

Indecent Exposure

Usually, people caught urinating in public are charged with indecent exposure. Indecent exposure includes the exposure of the genitals when another person is present. Although public urination does not generally involve the intent to cause sexual arousal or gratification on behalf of either party, it’s still considered a type of sex crime. Under Arizona law, indecent exposure is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor. However, it can become a felony offense. The charge is upgraded if the person who witnessed the public urination is a minor under the age of 15.

Criminal Nuisance

In some cases, a person who is caught urinating in public may be charged with a criminal nuisance offense. In Arizona, criminal nuisance is defined as an act that is either illegal or unreasonable for the circumstances that endangers the health or safety of other people. Public urination definitely qualifies as an act that can compromise the health of other people.

Legal Penalties

Any person convicted of indecent exposure as a class one misdemeanor may be sentenced to no more than six months in jail. There is no mandatory jail term for this offense, and so it’s quite possible for a defendant to be sentenced to probation instead. Up to three years of probation may be required for a class one misdemeanor, along with a fine of up to $2,500. However, if the person who witnessed the act was a minor under age 15, the charge is prosecuted as a class six felony. This can result in up to two years of prison time. Individuals convicted of indecent exposure may also be required to register as sex offenders, particularly if they have multiple offenses.

Janet Altschuler is an accomplished criminal defense attorney serving the Tucson, AZ area. If you’ve been charged with indecent exposure or any other sex crime, call her office right away at (520) 247-1789.