Public Urination: How a Little Wee-Wee Can Land You in a “Wee” Bit of Trouble
Everyone has been there. You are at your favorite watering hole in Baltimore City, and all of a sudden, the seal is broken. You head over to the closest restroom, and there is a line the length of a city block. It looks as though Apple just introduced a new IPad in the one bathroom at your disposal. And there you are stranded with the other hostages, hopping around nervously wondering if you could duck outside into the alleyway to relieve this looming natural disaster.
Finally, someone next to you cracks and says “let’s just go into the alleyway, nobody will be the wiser.” Breaking free from the constraints of the line, you duck into the cover of night, and let it fly. Ladies, please do not pretend that this has never happened. Most of the time, the story ends without confrontation and your night continues as though you just outsmarted the rest of the bathroom-goers with a foxy little maneuver. However, once in too many Blue Moons consumed, bad things can happen.
As the pee turns…
This little tale could have taken a much worse turn. The degree of that turn is often discussed and debated. Putting an end to the debate on public urination:, the verdict is quite simple Once you are in a public place and urinate, you are guilty of the Baltimore City Code, Health General, Title 5 Nuisance Control, also known as public urination:
No person may urinate or defecate on or about:
(1) any public place, way, or park; or
(2) the mall or adjacent parking area of any shopping center.
(City Code, 1976/83, art. 19, §171A(a)(1st cl.).) (Ord. 99-548.)
Please take note, this public urination law governs Baltimore City, but other counties have similar ordinances. There seems to be some debate however, as to whether this act also constitutes Indecent Exposure, and requires registration as a sex offender.
You’re not a Sex Offender, so calm down!
First off, if you ever have a question about what constitutes a crime that requires registry as a sex offender in Maryland, please consult a Maryland criminal defense lawyer and mention public urination, or refer to the Department of Public Safety webpage, which provides a list of the enumerated crimes, and their respective tiers. The website has a frequently asked questions section addressing public urination and sex offenders lists.
Now, back to the debate…
The relevant statute is
Maryland Criminal Law Code Ann. § 11-107 (2012) entitled, Indecent Exposure. The statute reads “a person convicted of indecent exposure is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $ 1,000 or both.”
The statute does not provide a lengthy description, pardon the pun, of what the crime includes, thus a review of the case law is necessary. Maryland’s highest Court, The Court of Appeals, in State v. Duran, 407 Md. 532 (2009), quoting common law defined this crime as “the wilful and intentional exposure of the private parts of one’s body in a public place in the presence of an assembly,” so that “its main elements were the wilful exposure, the public place in which it was performed, and the presence of persons who saw it.” Therefore, it really depends. If you are urinating in the middle of a school playground mid-day while kids are playing on the swings at recess, then you’ve got 99 problems, and indecent exposure is just one. However, in a dark quasi-public alleyway, late at night, with nobody around except the cop who caught you, then you’re probably going to simply receive a civil citation or a strong reprimand. Bottom line is, so the Court in Duran noted, is that indecent exposure is not sexual in nature, and even if convicted, the Court cannot mandate sex offender registration.
Practical advice on peeing in public:
The Baltimore criminal defense law firm, ENlawyers suggests that you use the facilities to relieve yourself, or wear a diaper, because why end up in jail for having a wiley bladder. Moreover, if you get arrested or cited for one of the above offenses, don’t get caught with your pants down, call your friendly ENlawyer!