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Will I Become a Sex Offender for Public Urination in Massachusetts?

Understanding How Public Urination Can Impact Your Future

Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find a restroom when you need it most. Many parts of Massachusetts do not necessarily offer readily available public restrooms, so when you are between locations while out with friends or simply exploring Boston or any other of the state’s cities, you may find yourself in an uncomfortable situation where you need to go but have no place to do so. Avoid the temptation to urinate in a bush or against a wall, even if you are confident no one else is around. If you are caught publicly urinating, no matter the reason or how badly you needed to go, you could face criminal charges. Below, we discuss the specific offense you could be charged with and the severe consequences a conviction can bring.

What Is Considered Public Urination in Massachusetts?

Very few people seek to urinate in public. Public urination tends to result from events where attendees consume several beverages but do not have a chance to relieve themselves before departing. Then, if no public or private restroom can be found or is available, an attendee may choose to relieve themselves publicly to avoid the risk of an “accident,” especially if they know they have a long journey home and are not confident they will “make it” in time. Alcohol can be a contributing factor to these scenarios, as imbibing can make it tougher to control your bladder.

Public urination is exactly what it sounds like: Relieving oneself in a public place other than a restroom. Specifically, the genitalia of a person must be exposed for the act to be considered public urination. So, while it can be unpleasant and embarrassing to think about, “peeing one’s pants” is not generally considered an act of public urination.

Public Urination Is a Form of Indecent Exposure in Massachusetts

Massachusetts’s “indecent exposure” law prohibits, among other things, any deliberate exposure of genitals in a public environment, including MBTA trains and stations. This means public urination typically constitutes indecent exposure and can lead to arrest, no matter how desperate or well-intentioned the act. The important factor is whether the individual intended to expose their genitalia, not whether they intended to offend anyone. Because urinating in public requires someone to intentionally expose their genitals (even if for a purely utilitarian purpose), they can be arrested for this act despite any efforts they made to conceal themselves and avoid offending anyone.

Consequences of an Indecent Exposure Conviction

In Massachusetts, indecent exposure is a misdemeanor crime, but the penalties can still be harsh in many circumstances. To obtain a conviction, prosecutors must show that the defendant intentionally exposed their genitals and that doing so offended one or more people. Again, it does not matter under the law whether the defendant meant to offend anyone. All it takes is one person to inadvertently see an act of public urination to meet the criteria needed to convict.

If convicted, penalties for indecent exposure linked to public urination in Massachusetts could include:

  • Up to 6 months of jail time
  • Up to $200 in fines
  • Probation
  • A criminal record

Will I Have to Register as a Sex Offender If Convicted of Public Urination in Massachusetts?

Whether you will have to register as a sex offender following an indecent exposure conviction will depend on the specific facts of your case. In scenarios where a defendant is extremely intoxicated and seemingly “out of control,” this penalty could be assessed. A sex offender registration could also be required in extreme situations where a defendant publicly urinated knowing that others were around and likely to witness the act.

Even if a defendant is not required to register as a sex offender, a misdemeanor conviction will still negatively impact their life. Beyond the financial consequences of the penal fines and the time lost due to potential incarceration, the conviction will appear in background checks and limit a person’s ability to secure housing and employment. They will also likely suffer damage to their personal and professional reputation.

Public urination is usually an honest mistake born of unfortunate circumstances, but it does not have to affect the rest of your life. If you have been charged with indecent exposure, we encourage you to reach out to Brad Bailey Law. Our criminal defense attorneys have over 35 years of experience and successfully defended thousands of clients. We will work to protect your interests in and out of the courtroom and seek the best available outcome in your case, which will include specific efforts to avoid a sex offender registration requirement.

Let us provide the robust defense representation you deserve. Call (617) 500-0252 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation today.

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