Can I go to jail for public urination?
Although there is no federal law against public urination, state and local rules and regulations address this issue. These types of rules are beneficial for the public. No one wants to walk through a puddle of urine or have their communities smell like a public restroom — not to mention the potential health concerns. But does this type of offense really warrant an arrest or prison sentence?
The answer will depend on the details of the situation.
What does the law say?
Many different laws could apply, but the two main Colorado laws to note include:
- Public indecency. This law makes it illegal to expose intimate body parts rudely with the intent to cause sexual arousal, excluding genitals. Examples would include the anus or breasts. It also makes it illegal to fondle another person, expose genitals in a way that will alarm another individual, or have sex in public.
- Indecent exposure. This law makes it illegal to expose genitals in a way that will cause alarm or offense with the intent to arouse or satisfy sexual desires or to masturbate in public.
Urinating in public is likely to result in exposing one’s genitals in a way that could cause alarm. As a result, the prosecution could attempt to prove one of these charges, a combination, or add in other charges depending on the details of the situation.
What are the potential penalties?
Before we dive into potential penalties, it is important to note that the exact penalties depend on the details of the case. The information included below serves as a starting point for a conversation about the potential impact of these charges. The details of the situation, whether there is a history of prior offenses and what type of charges the prosecution will pursue can all impact the potential charges.
A conviction for either offense comes with serious penalties. Public indecency can result in up to six months imprisonment for a petty offense or, for those with a previous record of similar offenses, up to 18 months imprisonment. It also comes with a fine ranging from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars.
Indecent exposure is a more serious offense with up to 18 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000 for serious offenses.
Both can result in mandatory sex offender registry. This can make it difficult to find housing, employment, and even get scholarships for higher-level education.
What should I do if I am accused of peeing in public?
It is important to take the allegations seriously. It may sound ridiculous, but it is possible that public urination could come with consequences that impact your future. An attorney experienced in this niche area of criminal law can review the details of the situation and help to build a defense strategy tailored to your case.