Are Hermosa Beach Prosecutions For Urinating in Public Legal?

Have you been detained and cited for urination in public in Hermosa Beach?  If so Attorney Matthew Ruff can help.  He defends charges of public urination and has the highest success rate for dismissal of these violations.  You may think that these tickets are ridiculous and indeed you are correct.  However, the city takes them seriously and aggressively prosecutes them in the Torrance Court.  You do not want a conviction on your record for an embarrassing offense, Hermosa Beach Attorney Matthew Ruff understands this and can make the citation “go away” in most cases.

If you are facing an upcoming Court date for a criminal charge such as urinating in public contact the Hermosa Beach Criminal Defense Attorney with over 20 years experience defending cases where his clients are written tickets for acts of indiscretion.  He can ensure that conduct you are not proud of does not go on your permanent record for all the world to see.

Many folks who visit downtown Hermosa Beach indulge, some may even overindulge in the consumption of alcohol. Indeed, this type of behavior is encouraged by the local bar owners who derive a great deal of money from this activity. What about those who need to relieve themselves of the booze and cannot find adequate bathroom facilities? Although it is changing, currently bathroom facilities are sorely lacking in the downtown area, near the strand and the pier.  Obtaining relief can be challenging and often the public does it in areas not intended.  The end result could be a criminal arrest and prosecution by the city of Hermosa Beach.

When the Hermosa City prosecutor gets ahold of the case, The usual statute that they use is Penal Code 372 which is maitaining a public nuisance. Some say this statute is vague and it is not intended to be used to prosecute those who need to pee in public due to an emergency. Is the act a criminal offense that should result in a Torrance Court appearance?

There is at least one California case that addresses this question, the case deals with an arrest for PC 372 for urinating in public that led to the discovery of narcotics. The Justices upheld the conviction due to the initial arrest of peeing in public. The high court held that peeing in public is illegal because it constitutes a “public nuisance” and hence violates Section 370 and 372. The Judges do not say that such conduct always constitutes a nuisance, But, in the end, the Court holds that peeing in public is illegal because it constitutes a “public nuisance” and hence violates Section 370 and 372.

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Yes, a public nuisance in violation of Penal Code section 372. Not indecent exposure or intoxication crimes. Now, as you might expect, the Justices do not say that such conduct always constitutes a nuisance, and he expressly “doesn’t reach” the question whether a hiker who has to go really, really bad and hence pisses on a trail has done anything illegal. What about the otherwise law-abiding citizen who finds a private spot in a parking lot or alley to relieve themselves? Indeed, this type of behavior in and of itself is not per se criminal, it is just the time and place that makes the conduct reprehensible.

Some argue the use of PC 372 violates due process. Some legal scholars have expresses concern by a statute that prohibits (largely-undefined) public nuisances, and especially as applied to public urination. Does such a criminal prohibition really give adequate notice of the acts governed by this statute sufficient to comply with the Due Process Clause? Particularly as applied to an act that the Legislature could easily prohibit with express language, this seems to me a tough question. Plus, the “hiker” hypothetical that the California appeals court fails to reach only deepens the constitutional problem. If — and I think this is right — peeing in the woods wouldn’t constitute a public nuisance, then why does peeing in a dark and empty parking lot (in front of a closed restaurant) violate the statute? More significantly, what’s the clear dividing line between the two, and how does the statute give adequate notice of this distinction? Many believe that there’s a strong argument that it doesn’t, and that the statue, as applied by the Court might well be constitutionally deficient. Moreover, There’s a legitimate argument that the Legislature would not have intended Sections 370 and 372 to apply to public urination. Look for example at CA Penal Code Section 640, which was the statute that the Legislature in fact passed regarding peeing in public. That statute makes it an infraction — not a true criminal offense to urinate on a public bus. Some say the laws specifically penalize that conduct but exclude the parking lot hypothetical because the lawmakers did not intend to criminalize that conduct. It may be that if the initial contact was precipitated by a public intoxication investigation then it is deemed more serious. In the end, the city of Hermosa Beach prosecutes these offense due to the pressure put on them by local homeowners who are outraged when a person releases urine in their backyard, streets and public parking lots which produces a long lasting odor that offends and itself creates a public nuisance, understandably so.

About thetorranceattorney

Matthew Ruff is a Torrance criminal defense attorney located near the 405 freeway on Crenshaw Blvd. Focusing on DUI and serious criminal cases for over twenty years. In addition to criminal cases, Matthew also defends clients at the DMV.
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