Stacey M. Washington, Attorney and CounselorAttorney and Counselor
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Possible Charges and Defenses for Public Urination in Michigan

man drunk in public carrying kegWhile public urination may not seem like a serious crime, it can carry serious legal ramifications if a proper defense is not made. The Michigan Penal Code does not list public urination as a crime. However, many towns and cities do have local ordinances that make it illegal and offenders face a misdemeanor charge and a minimum 90-days jail sentence. Some towns and municipalities will even seek out a higher charge by charging the offense as an act of indecent exposure.

The City of Ann Arbor defines public urination as a misdemeanor crime with a maximum jail sentence of 90 days. Some other Michigan cities, municipalities, and townships charge offenders with the crime of indecent exposure under the Michigan Penal Code. The minimum sentence for indecent exposure is one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. If the event involves sexual misconduct or there are prior sexual misconduct convictions, the defendant could face felony charges and be required to register as a sex offender. Police officers and prosecutors will often seek the highest charge possible.

Because of the ambiguity surrounding the crime, it is important to know your legal rights when facing a public urination charge. One possible defense is that the suspect committed the crime out of medical necessity, and charges could be dropped. While an affidavit from the defendant's medical doctor would likely be required, a medical expert can support the need for immediate urination in certain cases. A variety of medical conditions could be used in this defense, such as kidney problems, an undersized bladder, prostate gland problems, or other health complications.

There is an understandable stigma connected with the crimes of public urination or indecent exposure and being a registered sex offender can cause serious damage to your future. A public urination or indecent exposure charge or conviction can cause unnecessary public embarrassment, while a sexual crime charge or conviction can affect your ability to get a job, buy or rent a home, or receive a loan. Before making a plea bargain with the court, have an experienced criminal defense attorney review your case. A criminal lawyer can seek dismissal by arguing your actions were the result of a medical emergency or have the charges amended to a lesser civil infraction, such as blocking the sidewalk or another public disturbance, which would save your reputation and cause less professional and personal damage.

If you have been charged with public urination in the Washtenaw County area, I invite you to contact me for a consultation. You can reach me directly at 734-274-6567 or contact me here.

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