Peeing in Public: Crime or No Crime?
Peeing in public: is it gross? Yes. Is it classy? Nope. But, is it a crime?
As it turns out, yes.
All 50 states have deemed this act unlawful. Moreover, many cities and local jurisdictions also have penalties for peeing in public. This means that if you're caught with your pants down (or your fly unzipped, as the case may be), you may be facing more fines and penalties than just those handed down by the state in which you live. Your city and county could get their hands in the penalty pot, too.
In your head, you might be thinking that public peeing is something that's blatantly done out in the open. While that's certainly one possibility, many people are busted for urinating on:
- Park grounds
- Public facilities
- Private property
In the end, any place that's visible from a public place can land you in trouble if you choose that destination as your urinal-of-the-moment. It's important to note that peeing all by itself is offensive, but that may not be the worst offense you get if you're caught. At best, you might be facing public nuisance or disorderly conduct charges. At worst, you might be looking at indecent exposure or public lewdness offenses—both of which are crimes that might require you to register as a sex offender if your attorney isn't able to bring the charges down.
It's worth noting that this is why you need an attorney if you're caught peeing in public. You might think it's a harmless act that'll get you a slap on the wrist, but when it's all said and done, you might have to deal with far more than the plain embarrassment of being "that guy" to your friends. If you're forced to register as a sex offender, you might find it difficult to keep or find employment, housing, and friends. After all, potential employers and landlords won't care why you have sex offender status; they'll simply be concerned with the black mark on your record.
What are the Penalties for Peeing in Public?
Most of the time, peeing in public is a misdemeanor offense, meaning it's less serious than a felony. In all states except Ohio, misdemeanor penalties can include county jail time up to one year; Ohio allows misdemeanor incarceration up to two years. Bear in mind that this is only for first-time offenders. If you have a prior record (not just for public indecency, but really anything that shows you can't abide by the laws), you're setting yourself up for even harsher penalties.
In addition to state-bound penalties, you might face local ordinance violations. Depending on where you live (or where you're caught peeing, as the case may be), these penalties have quite a range. Generally, you might be facing a monetary fine somewhere between $50 and $500, depending on the circumstances.
Why Would Anyone Pee in Public?
If you're not a public pee-er, you might think this is a completely uncommon situation that happens once every blue moon. Rest assured, dear reader, that's simply not the case. People pee in public for many different reasons. Often, the peeing culprits think they're hiding behind the guise of an alleyway or shielded by the frame of their cars, but in reality, densely populated areas are publicly viewable from many vantage points; this means people in cities and densely populated suburbs are likely peeing in public, even when they think no one is looking.
It doesn't have to be outright peeing on the sidewalk in front of crowds of people that can land you in trouble. You just have to be seen by anyone who's out and about—or even in their homes but able to witness you getting down with your bladder-emptying skills somewhere that's noticeably out in the open. Let's say you take a quick dip into an alley where you know no one will be. You look left, look right, and give yourself the all-clear to let your urine go. As it flows, you look up and see someone looking down upon you from their apartment window. Guess what? You're in public, and you've now been caught.
There are lots of people who pee in public, either out of necessity or because they don't realize the repercussions they're inviting into their lives. This list might include:
- Homeless people who don't have the luxuries of heading to indoor plumbing when nature calls
- Festival-goers who didn't give themselves enough time to wait in the unexpectedly long bathroom lines
- People who work in their cars all day and don't have designated gas stations or public restrooms where they can stop after they've been driving for hours on end
- Workers who are outside most of their days and don't have adequate access to proper restroom facilities or port-o-pots
- People who have partied a little too hard at sporting events to have the right gauge as to how long they can hold it before they need to let it go
Public Peeing in the News
We hit the streets (and the internet) to check for situations of public peeing and the situations that came about as a result. Here's what we found.
Manscaped Reader: Cincinnati, Ohio
This story happened when the reader was tailgating before a football game. It was early in the season, and the temperatures were still toasty, so people were out and about in parking lots all over the city. As Midwesterners do, people were hanging out with each other and enjoying the camaraderie of their favorite team. Our reader tells the story from here.
"We were in one of the most popular tailgating lots, so there were people everywhere. The game started at 1pm, but since it was early in the season, many of us had been out there for hours. In Cincinnati, people go all-out when it comes to tailgating. There are buses, tents, and full buffets of food and drinks. Unfortunately, our lot only had two port-o-pots for several hundred (if not thousand?) people. Nothing was rowdy or out of control, and we didn't even realize there was a police presence; the police were just there to make sure everything went as it was supposed to.
And then our friend went missing.
At some point, he'd told one of our friends he was going to the bathroom. We waited as long as we could before we went to the game. We figured he might've met a lady friend or gotten too drunk to sit in the stadium for three hours, so we went about our way. We went to the game, drowned our sorrows in beer, and came back to my friend's place. He wasn't there. It was only later that we learned he couldn't wait in the long line for the port-o-pot any longer, so he passed the line and peed in between the two makeshift toilet stalls. Unbeknownst to him, a cop was standing right behind him while he relieved himself. He was instantly arrested, taken to jail, and fingerprinted. Even though we were in an adults-only tailgating lot, the police argued that children could have seen him and charged him with a list of offenses, including public indecency. He was also forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, which caused problems with his family, as well as his search for employment. He was only around 22 or 23 years old at the time, and was just beginning his job search. The impact of that day was devastating."
Gerard Depardeiu: Dublin, Ireland
It might seem obvious that people would have to pee when there's nowhere else to go on the ground, but what happens when they're mid-flight and can't hold it any longer? When you're flying in a tinfoil cylinder that's 35,000 feet above ground, you only have so many options, and for some people, when you have to go, you have to go.
That's what happened to French actor Gerard Depardieu when he was on a flight from Paris to Dublin in 2011. As the story goes, he needed to pee before the flight took off, but once the lavatories were closed for take-off, the flight attendants denied the man his call to nature. It's said that he left his seat and tried to pee into an empty plastic bottle at the back of the plane. Since that would require quite a bit of accuracy, given the small mouths of plastic bottles, the actor also pissed all over the carpet. Obviously, that would be a problem, given the stench and stink that can come from urine, especially when it's in enclosed spaces.
While this may have been funny in a movie scene, it was far from humorous to the passengers who had to endure the sights, smells, and sounds of urine gently piddling onto the floor of the plane. The plane was grounded for two hours while the staff cleaned the carpet and kicked the star off the plane, along with his two companions and all of his luggage.
Andy Dick: Murrieta, California
Andy Dick is no stranger to inappropriate behavior. In 2008, his urinating antics cost him a lot more than a little embarrassment after the police discovered he was peeing outside a Buffalo Wild Wings. It wasn't just the urinating that got the actor in trouble, however; that's just what lead to the establishment calling the police. As it turned out, Dick had sexually battered a 17-year-old female while he was inebriated, grabbing her tank top and bra and pulling them down to expose her breasts. Dick was also found with marijuana and Xanax on his person, proving he was far from sober when he made a dick of himself (pun intended).
Robert Durst: Texas
Apparently having billions of dollars doesn't make you classy. If Robert Durst has anything to say about it, peeing on the candy at CVS Pharmacy stores is just par for the course with his day-to-day interactions in public. In 2015, this multi-million-dollar mogul was done with his transactions after purchasing a number of snack-and-candy creations. However, his fun didn't stop there. Before the man left, he pulled out his penis and peed all over the candy at the front register. The store clerk, not knowing what to do (would you??!) escorted the waiting patron to another register so no one would have to put up with Durst's pile of piddle.
The resulting charges were criminal mischief, a Class C misdemeanor. Durst paid restitution to the store for the loss of its inventory during the situation.
Kesha: On the Street
Sometimes, we get stuck in traffic. It's a real-life situation for people who live in or around major cities. When Kesha had to pee, though, she wasn't letting traffic stand in her way. In 2012, she posted a tweet of her peeing on the street with the caption that read: "pee pee on the street. PoPo come n get me if u can fine meee. I blame traffik." Was she tempting the police? Sure? What it a bad idea? Absolutely. Did she get caught? Nope!
We're not saying everybody should try their hand at eluding the police when you have to piss, but if you're looking for likes and followers—and you already have the fan base to take care of business—it seems to work well for the brazen individuals who are willing to squat on the sidewalk.
Justin Bieber: New York City
In his younger years, The Biebs was known to have a few scandalous encounters with the press. Once he got to drinking age, things got a little worse before they seem to have calmed down. In 2013, Justin Bieber apparently had a problem with former President Bill Clinton. He was captured on film spraying window cleaner on Clinton's photo shortly before he peed in a restaurant's mop bucket. If the public display of peeing wasn't bad enough, the employee who was tasked with cleaning the restaurant's floors was forced to clean out Bieber's piss before putting the mop down on the floors.
That's not only elitist and disrespectful; it's downright disgusting.
The Rolling Stones: London
Public peeing is nothing new. In 1965, The Rolling Stones really had to go after a show in London, according to bassist Bill Wyman. History says the group pulled over at a gas station and was caught peeing on the gas station wall. Police were reported there almost immediately, and the band was caught with its pants down after a lively and successful show. The charade made its way to the papers the next day, and the group was fined five pounds for the rebellion.
This situation went down because the gas station attendant wouldn't let the band in to pee, stating there was not a gas station at the facility. The Rolling Stones, in a show of unity, pissed on the wall of the gas station as a bit of a middle finger toward the man who wouldn't let them use the proper restroom.
Wiz Khalifa: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
When you have to whiz, you have to whiz, but Wiz took that a little too literally when he was caught peeing on a bar outside The Flats in Pittsburgh in 2015. While some people may be embarrassed (or even mortified) about being caught on camera, Wiz celebrated his whiz publicly by posting photos on his Instagram account. This is the difference between celebrity whizzes and those of us normal people who shouldn't tempt our fates when nature calls.
Is There Anything You Can Do if You've Been Caught with Your Pants Down?
The best thing you can do for yourself is to get an attorney if you've been caught peeing in public. It may sound like such a minor thing that doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but the overall implications can be quite severe. If you're not armed with someone who knows the law and can defend your situation in court, you'll likely find yourself in a painful situation that'll prove you should've held it in until you were standing in a bathroom stall. Most attorneys will offer a free consultation before they take your case. Take advantage of these offers and find a lawyer who's willing to go to bat about your circumstance. The last thing you want is to have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life because you couldn't keep your pee in place long enough to get out of the public eye.