When nature calls, it can be tempting to answer it in the most convenient way possible. However, urinating in public can have serious consequences in Texas. While taking a leak may seem like a minor indiscretion, public urination is actually illegal, and it can result in fines, community service, and possibly a criminal record.
What is Public Urination in the Eyes of the Law?
Public urination, in the eyes of the law, falls under the category of Disorderly Conduct in the state of Texas. Specifically, Section 42.01 of the Texas Penal Code defines disorderly conduct as the act of “exposing his anus or genitals in a public place and is reckless about whether another may be present who will be offended or alarmed by his act.”
This offense is typically considered a Class C misdemeanor in Texas, the lowest misdemeanor offense in the state. However, don’t let that classification fool you. The consequences of a Class C misdemeanor can be more significant than you might think. If you’re found guilty, you could possibly face a fine of up to $500 and a final conviction on your record. That’s a substantial financial and long-term burden to bear for a few moments of convenience.
Graver Consequences: Indecent Exposure and Lewdness
Depending on the circumstances, the location, if a minor is present, and the prosecutor’s discretion, a public urination could be charged as a more severe offense, such as Indecent Exposure or Lewdness. These charges carry significantly harsher consequences and may even lead to sex offender registration.
Indecent Exposure: Under the Texas Penal Code, 21.08, a person commits an offense if he exposes his anus or any part of his genitals with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, and he is reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed by his act. Consequences for this crime can land you up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Lewdness: Penal Code 21.07 defines this as an offense where a person knowingly engages in any of the following acts in a public place or, if not in a public place, he or she is reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed by his or her:
- Act of sexual intercourse;
- Act of deviate sexual intercourse; OR
- Act of sexual contact.
Avoiding the Consequences
The best way to avoid the serious consequences of public urination in Texas is to plan ahead. Here are some tips to help you navigate these situations:
- Use Public Restrooms: Whenever possible, use designated public restrooms. Most public places, like parks, shopping centers, and restaurants, provide restroom facilities.
- Plan Ahead: If you know you’ll be in an area without accessible restrooms, plan accordingly. Try to use the facilities before leaving home or seek out restrooms at nearby businesses.
- Ask for Assistance: If you find yourself in a situation without restroom access, consider seeking help from a local business owner or law enforcement officer to find a suitable and legal place to relieve yourself.
In conclusion, while the temptation to urinate in public may arise, it’s crucial to resist that urge in Texas. The consequences, including fines, a potential criminal record, and even sex offender registration, make it a risk not worth taking.
Instead, plan ahead, be responsible, and find a suitable, legal place to answer nature’s call to avoid these unwanted repercussions. However, if you do find yourself facing charges of this nature, call the attorneys at Varghese Summersett at 817-203-2220 to schedule a phone consultation where we can:
- Discuss the facts of your case;
- Discuss the legal issues involved, including the consequences of the allegation; and
- Discuss the defenses that apply and in general terms discuss our approach to your case.