Urinating in Public – Michigan

The Michigan Penal Code does not specifically identify urinating in public as a crime. This crime is frequently at the local level by for example, the local cities, villages, or townships. Michigan does have a statute in the penal code against indecent exposure. MCL 750.335a states:A person shall not knowingly make any open or indecent exposure of his or her person or of the person of another. Violation of the section is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or both. If the person was fondling his or her genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or, if the person is female, breasts, while making the open or indecent exposure, then the punishment is increased to 2 years imprisonment or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both. The two year misdemeanor is considered a high court misdemeanor and in the nature of a felony. If the person was at the time of the violation a sexually delinquent person, the violation is punishable by imprisonment for an indeterminate term, the minimum of which is 1 day and the maximum of which is life.

Michigan also has a statute punishing disorderly persons, which references indecent exposure. Under MCL 750.167, a disorderly person is a person who is intoxicated in a public place and who is either endangering directly the safety of another person or of property or is acting in a manner that causes a public disturbance. A disorderly person is also one that is engaged in indecent or obscene conduct in a public place. Either one of these could arguably apply to someone who urinates in public.

On the local level in Meridian Township, Michigan, the Charter Township of Meridian Code Sec. 50-111 address public nudity and indecency. The section makes it a crime to knowingly or intentionally in a public place engage in sexual intercourse; engage in deviate sexual conduct; or fondle the person’s genitals or the genitals of another person. It also makes it a crime to commit an act of public nudity and for any person owning or controlling a public place to knowingly or intentionally allow any person in such place to violate this law. In this section, “deviate sexual conduct” means an act involving: a sex organ of one person and the mouth or anus of another person; or the penetration of the sex organ or anus of a person by an object. The term “public nudity” means knowingly or intentionally displaying in a public place, or for payment or promise of payment by any person including, but not limited to, payment or promise of payment of an admission fee, any individual’s genitals or anus with less than a fully opaque covering, or a female individual’s breast with less than a fully opaque covering of the nipple and areola. The law excludes a woman’s breastfeeding of a baby whether or not the nipple or areola is exposed during or incidental to the feeding.

The Charter Township of Meridian Code Sec. 50-112 addresses spitting, urinating, and defecating specifically. It states that it shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly or recklessly spit, urinate, or defecate in any public place or on private premises without the consent of the owner or his tenant, agent, or employee, except where an approved sanitary facility is provided. An argument to make in defense of this crime is disability as where the person, due to a disability, violated this law because of necessity. One can argue an undersized bladder or kidney problems for example. An affidavit of a physician assist in proving this defense.

There is a question of whether a person who has been convicted of urinating in public must register on the Michigan Sex Offenders List. According to the Sex Offender Registry Act, the intent of the act was to better assist law enforcement officers and the people of this state in preventing and protecting against the commission of future criminal sexual acts by convicted sex offenders. A person who has been convicted of committing an offense covered by the is considered to pose a potential serious menace and danger to the health, safety, morals, and welfare of the people, and particularly the children, of Michigan. The registration requirements of this act are intended to provide law enforcement and the people of this state with an appropriate, comprehensive, and effective means to monitor those persons who pose such a potential danger.

Is someone who urinates in public a person who poses such a potential danger? The answer depends on the conviction as persons who have been convicted of a the following offenses must register:

(i) A violation of MCL 750.145a, 750.145b, and 750.145c, referring to accosting, enticing or soliciting a child for immoral purpose.

(ii) A violation of MCL 750.158, referring to crimes against nature or sodomy involving victims less than age 18.

(iii) A violation of MCL 750.335a, if the individual was previously convicted of violating section 335a referring to indecent exposure statute referenced above.

(iv) A third or subsequent violation of any combination of: Section 167(1)(f) referring to disorderly persons; section 335a(2)(a) referring to indecent exposure; or a local ordinance of a municipality substantially corresponding to a section described.

(v) A violation of MCL 750.338, 750.338a, and 750.338b, referring to gross indecency involving victims less than age 18.

(vi) A violation of MCL 750.349, referring to kidnapping involving a victim less than age 18.

(vii) A violation of MCL 750.350, referring to taking away or enticing a victim less than age 14.

(viii) A violation of MCL 750.448, referring to prostitution involving an individual less than age 18.

(ix) A violation of MCL 750.455, referring to pandering of prostitution.

(x) A violation of MCL 750.520b, 750.520c, 750.520d, 750.520e, and 750.520g, referring to rape crimes.

(xi) Any other violation of a law of Michigan or a local ordinance of a municipality that by its nature constitutes a sexual offense against an individual who is less than 18 years of age.

(xii) An offense committed by a person who was, at the time of the offense, a sexually delinquent person as defined in MCL 750.10a.

(xiii) An attempt or conspiracy to commit an offense described in subparagraphs (i) to (xii).

(xiv) An offense substantially similar to an offense described in subparagraphs (i) to (xiii) under a law of the United States, any state, or any country or under tribal or military law.

In Michigan, if the individual is convicted of a violation of the Charter Township of Meridian Code Sec. 50-112 addressing spitting, urinating, and defecating for example, since the conviction is not one that is identified herein-above, he will not have to register on the sex offender register. Persons charged with urinating in public should negotiate with prosecutors to charge them under laws that do not fit under the guise of the sex offender registry.

Discussion:

  1. Dear Michael:

    The laws of the City of New York are found at http://24.97.137.100/nyc/. The law applicable to your offense is found at http://24.97.137.100/nyc/rc… Specifically:

    Rules of the City of New York, Title 24 Department of Health, §153.09 Throwing or dropping offensive matter into streets, public places, rivers and other places prohibited:

    No person shall throw or put any blood, swill, brine, offensive animal matter, noxious liquid, dead animals, offal, putrid or stinking vegetable or animal matter or other filthy matter of any kind, and no person shall allow any such matter to run or fall into any street, public place, sewer, receiving basin or river, any standing or running water or into any other waters of the City as defined in §145.01.

    How this offense is dealt with as a practical matter is discussed at:
    http://answers.google.com/a…

    Persons of your age and with no criminal history are typically good candidates for probation. Consider contacting the attorney prosecuting your case and asking him/her whether you can enter a plea of guilty which can be held in abeyance and if you successfully complete probation, would not be entered. If no, ask if there is a similar program / act / law, that might be available. Furthermore, anything you use to prove that you deserve some leniency should be used to advocate on your behalf for leniency. For example, consider doing some volunteer work and getting a statement from the individual for whom you provided volunteer services. Consider getting statements from people who know you and presenting those to the prosecutor’s office.

  2. I was recently issued a disorderly conduct ticket for public urination in Detroit. I have never had any prior legal issues, and have a clean record. While I understand that I was in the wrong as far as the law is written, I am wondering if the fact that the officer who issued the ticket got just about all of my information wrong (with acception of my i.d. number) might be cause to get the case dropped, the ticket states the incorrect eye color, race, time that the ticket was issued (the ticket states 0:30 A.M. when the ticket was issued at 3 in the morning), and has no height or weight written on it. Does any of this have any relevence in court? and if not what would be the best way to go about getting the case dropped?

    also the officer said that he was writting the ticket because the location was too obvious and that i should have found a back alley or dumpster, however at the time there were no public bathrooms open, and venturing into random back alleys while intoxicated is a really fast way to get yourself mugged. would any of this help my case?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dear BW:

    What you have is a credibility issue for the officer and yes, you can use this as leverage in negotiating. If you are not going to get a deal, then make the prosecution prove their case as this is your constitutional right. When the officer is called to the stand, his credibility can be attacked with the incredible ticket information.

    It also sounds like the officer was assuming that you urinated in public. It would be of value to know if he actually saw you urinating. This is another issue to draw out in court.

    Perhaps you should request an attorney be appointed for you, or considering retaining an attorney. This type of case should not be expensive to defend.

  4. I was in Royal Oak and I couldn’t get into the closest bar to go to the bathroom. There were cops everywhere because of the Stanley Cup finals, but I thought no one saw me when I turned in to a dark alley. It was pitch black in the alley and I was hiding behind a dumpster, out of sight when a cop car pulled up and I received a UIP. The cop asked me why I didn’t just go in the bar next door to the alley, and I told him I couldn’t get in. I don’t have a record, but was drinking during the incident. Do I have a case? No one saw me, as the cop only told me to come out from behind the dumpster before issuing me the ticket. Also, is there a way to ask for community service in lieu of paying a fine? Thank you

  5. Dear Jane:

    Request a copy of the police report under the Freedom of Information Act. Only by reading the report can one discern if there is a decent defense. It sounds like you may have admitted to the officer that you were urinating.

    You must try to speak with the officer who arrested you and the prosecutor to see if you can strike a deal with them, and doing community service before going to court makes a great impression.

  6. My boyfriend recently received a public urination violation in the town of West Chester, PA. We were coming out of a bar around 2am with everyone else, he ran behind an alley to pee, and a couple of cops followed him and told him he was going to be charged with public urination. In West Chester, this is a Public Indecency violation.

    He is extremely worried because he is an elementary school teacher in New Jersey. NJ recently passed a law requiring all educators to report "any offense, whether charged or convicted, in any jurisdiction," to the superintendent within 14 days of the offense. He is now concerned that he will lose his job.

    He has a completed clean record (not even a speeding ticket) other than this charge. I told him he needs to get a lawyer. Do you have any advice/idea how this could play out? Is there any chance he could get it dismissed?

  7. My son was cited for Urinating in Public in Atlanta, GA.
    We hired an atty. and his court date is tomorrow. The atty. called today with a conflict, but told me to go to court with my son and plead no lo contendre to disorderly conduct. I have 2 questions; 1 will a nolo plea of disorderly conduct be on his record? And since my son has no prior records, is there not a first offender plea of some sort that doesn’t go on his record? He also said that if they won’t do that, to ask for a jury trial…???? He’s 21 years old. I’d ask the atty., but his office is closed and we have to be in court in the morning…Thanks!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dear Eliz:

    Your boyfriend should get a really good attorney who has some connections. If he can’t afford a great attorney with connections, then he should argue for a charge that is not one as to which termination from employment is mandatory. A good attorney should try to get creative as for example, sometimes, a conviction can be held in abeyance upon successful completion of probation so that the charge would be dismissed.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Katja:

    I am not that fast. I am a real, working attorney with a family and have to fit in this public service where I can. I hope it all worked out and would be glad to answer any additional questions.

  10. Hi, I received a urinating in public ticket on June 26 in Michigan. It was 1 am after we left the bar. I was drunk. The cop took me to jail, gave me a breathalyzer and let me go five hours later. I was drunk and that’s the reason for me doing something horrible like that. I am 22, and planning on going to law school. I take the LSAT in September. I really don’t want this horrible night to be on my record. It will ruin a lot of employment opportunities. I really do not drink a lot. I have a full time job and then I study for the LSAT. I have never been in trouble before and have a clean record. What can I do to get this to not be on my record. I am willing to do anything. What are my chances for this to be just a fine. I have definitely learned my lesson. I do not want a misdemeanor on my record? Also, I am getting an attorney, but how can I know if it is a good one and has connections. Also, I was polite to the officer and did everything I was told. He even let me go when I was still drunk. Do you recommend for me to do anything before court?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dear Jenn:

    You can work with the prosecutor on this. You should start laying a foundation in advance by doing community service and attending AA procuring signatures evidencing your attendance. You can ask for a conditional plea or a plea held in abeyance which can be dismissed after successful completion of whatever requirements the prosecutor and/or a probation officer choose.

    When you are ready to get your law license, as long as you have nothing further on your record, even if you are unable to finesse a deal, your offense should be excused.

  12. Thanks, what would my charges be?

  13. Dear Jenn:

    Your charges would likely be misdemeanor crimes such as indecent exposure, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, etc.

  14. Dear Jenn:

    I recently got a ticket for urinating in public. I was walking home from a bar with some friends and a cop saw and frisked me while asking for drugs. I had nothing and was also not breathilized. He gave me a ticket and said he could of taken me to jail but chose not to. What is my best course of action here? I saw earlier comments stating what I will be charged with(disturbing the peace, indecent exposure, urinating in public, etc) but am not sure where to proceed from here. Thanks!

  15. Sue Bouwkamp says:

    Last Saturday, our group was canoeing/kayaking down the Muskegon river in Newaygo County, Michigan. We stopped along the way in a secluded wooded area for a potty stop. Those needing to went in the woods to relieve themselves. As my friend turned around there stood two sheriffs and they cited him for urinating in public. They also gave him a breathilizer test and he blew .055. They handed him the instrument used during the test and said "here’s a souvenir for you". they also asked him why he did just pee in the river? My friend told him that that was disgusting to pollute the river and there were women around that he didn’t want to offend. Now he has to appear in court for a Misdemeanor: Urinating in Public. What should we do? This is just crazy! What are you supposed to do when you are out in the wild with no porta-jons or bathrooms available? Thank you for your reply.

  16. Dear Sue:

    I agree with you that the officer who ticketed your friend was unreasonable. Your friend should probably get an attorney and should request any copies of recordings. If I were representing him, I would get the recording of him saying that your friend should have gone in the river or if none, I would get the officer to admit that he would not have given the ticket had your friend gone in the water. I would argue that your friend had no option and relative to the circumstances, he was in private, not in public. I would ask for a dismissal. No doubt that officer will get his retributive karma on that lame ticket!

  17. Dear Adam:

    I understand that you were walking home from a bar with some friends and a cop saw you urinating in public and frisked you while asking for drugs. You had no drugs. You were not breathalyzed. You were given a ticket. If the police officer saw you urinate, you will likely be charged with urinating in public. If you have no criminal history, you should ask the prosecutor to show you some leniency by allowing you to enter a conditional plea whereby you plead guilty but this plea is not entered following a successful period of probationary compliance.

    Consider hiring a well known criminal attorney who might be able to use their reputation to strike a deal for you.

  18. I recently revieved a Urination in Public ticket in St Clair Shores, Michigan. I have a pretty long record, but no indecient exposer or anything like that. The officer said he could have pulled a "red flag" and taken me to jail, but since im on 2 other city probations, he didnt. I was just wondering what the best thing i could do is?

  19. i recently posted something on here by the name of "TimB" and i just wanted to add the details. 1. i was on my property by my garage. 2. it was 1:37 am and there are no kids or anything out at that time 3. the cop was parked right across my driveway for what reason i dont know 4. i was drinking but no breathalyzers or pbt was issued . 5. they know me first and last name. 6. they knew i was on probation. … what should i do and what could happen

  20. Dear Tim B:

    If the public could see you urinate, then even though you were on your property, you are urinating in public. I recommend that to mitigate any legal ramifications, you hire an attorney.

  21. Jenn,

    I hope you still read this blog because I just happened upon it and would like to ask a question regarding UIP.
    I am a student at Michigan State University and frequent the football tailgates there. Generally there are very long lines for the bathrooms and some students as a result choose to urinate on trees and other things that are not the toilets in port-a-johns. I can understand how this can be construed as UIP, but what about peeing in a milk jug, or other receptacle for that matter? What if it was inside ones car or truck? The windows blacked out? Could it be construed as UIP if one was peeing in a jug be hind a tarp hung from ones truck, hidden from public view?
    Thanks,
    -JayPee

  22. Dear JayPee:

    A key element of the offense of urinating in public is being in the public view. If one urinates and is not in the public view, then a prosecutor will have a hard time trying a case of urinating in public. The greater lengths one goes to stay out of the public view when urinating, the less strength the prosecutor would have to go forward with the case. Chances are when pressed, the prosecutor would dismiss the case.

  23. Hello,

    I’m from California and was visited Grand Rapids, MI a few weeks ago. While there, I was cited for urinating in public in a dark alley after leaving a bar late at night. This is out of character for me (I have no prior offenses), but I really had to go and couldn’t wait b/c my friends were taking too long. I am very concerned because I’m a 30-something doctor and don’t want to have to explain this misdemeanor every time I apply for a new job. I have an arraignment coming up very soon. Do you have any recommendations of how I might get the offense reduced, or anything else? Do you think I should hire an attorney? I really appreciate any advice, as I’ve been very stressed out about the thought of a misdemeanor on my record. Thanks.

  24. Hello Joe. If you feel comfortable, you can speak with the prosecutor (you can do this at the arraignment or even before by calling the prosecutor’s office for the county in which you were arrested, and asking to speak with the prosecutor assigned to the case) and without admitting your guilt (you cannot be forced to do this), say that you have an excellent record but you are not perfect and you make mistakes like everyone else. Ask if there is a plea that can be entered that will keep you off the sex offender’s registry. Explain that you are a doctor and it has hit home to you after this incident how important it is to always conduct yourself in a certain way.

    If the prosecutor doesn’t understand this, I would be concerned enough to hire an attorney. At this point, you should say that you are going to hire an attorney and will enter a plea of not guilty at this time.

    If you do not feel comfortable advocating for yourself, then yes, hire an attorney now. With no prior history, be confident that this will work out for you. You are meant to save lives! Stay positive.

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