Public Urination: How a Little Wee-Wee Can Land You in a “Wee” Bit of TroubleEveryone has considered peeing in public. 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. You wince at a line the length of a city block. It looks as if Apple just introduced a new iPad in the one bathroom at your disposal.
There you are stranded with the other hostages. You’re left hopping around nervously. You start to wonder if you could duck outside into the alleyway. Relieve yourself there and avoid 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. Your night continues as though you just outsmarted the rest of the bathroom-goers with a foxy little maneuver.
But once in too many Blue Moons consumed, bad things can happen when you’re peeing in public.
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 peeing in a public place, 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. However, other counties have similar ordinances. There seems to be some debate on whether this act also constitutes Indecent Exposure. Requiring you to register as a sex offender.
Public Urination Doesn’t Make You a Sex Offender, So Calm Down!
First, if you ever have a question about what makes a crime consult a Maryland criminal defense lawyer. Especially if you think it requires registration as a sex offender in Maryland.
Or refer to the Department of Public Safety webpage. It provides a list of the enumerated crimes, and their respective tiers. The website has a frequently asked questions section. It addresses public urination and sex offenders lists.
Back to the Public Urination Debate on Being a Sex Offender
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 willful 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 peeing in public in the middle of a school playground mid-day while kids are playing on the swings at recess, then you’ve got 99 problems. Indecent exposure is just one of them.
But it’s simpler if you are in a dark quasi-public alleyway late at night. With nobody around but the cop who caught you. You’re simply going to receive a civil citation or a strong reprimand for public urination.
Bottom line is, so the Court in Duran noted, is that indecent exposure is not sexual in nature. Even if you are convicted, the Court cannot mandate sex offender registration.
Practical Advice on Peeing in Public
ENlawyers suggests that you use the facilities to relieve yourself or wear a diaper. You don’t want to end up in jail for having an overactive 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!