What to do about a public urination charge?

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What to do about a public urination charge?

I was charged with a public urination.  However I was not the one urinating. I was standing over a female friend whom I was with.  When she tried to tell the officer she was asked to stand aside and I was given the summons.  Should I just pay the fine or appear in court?  I appreciate your time and input on this matter.

Asked on February 19, 2011 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First of all, you need a criminal law attorney to represent you here.  You have a defense and it needs to be skillfully presented by experienced counsel.  Hire one that practices in the court in question.  They can utilize their local contacts to your best advantage - either in their negotiations with the prosecutor or in their appearance before the judge.

The fact of the matter is that in NY when you are issued a summons for public urination you are being charged with a misdemeanor (punishable by up to 1 year in jail).  However generally, the charge can be dismissed in exchange for a plea to a violation (punishable by not more than 15 days in jail) and payment of a fine. Additionally, a conviction for a misdemeanor will become part of your criminal record.  Violations, on the other hand, do not become a part of your criminal record.  However, the can have other possible negative consequences that should be considered; in particular those who hold professional licenses (or hope to) should be fully informed as to the possible ramifications of such a charge. 

While public urination may seem like a minor matter, it has potentially serious consequences.  Again, a criminal defense lawyer will understand the legal process and can explain to you all of your options.


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