Our client, an attorney in his late 20’s, was arrested for urinating behind a green tarp hanging off a fence surrounding a construction site. Our client was walking home from a Manhattan Beach bar and just could not make it home without needing to relieve himself. He had consumed quite a few drinks and forgot to use the restroom before leaving the bar.
The Gist of This Summary: Client was an attorney in his 20’s who was ticketed for public urination in Manhattan Beach, a misdemeanor. Case resolved with a dismissal in the “interests of justice” under Penal Code § 1385 after the client attends 20 Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings.
He had tried to use the porta-potty at the construction site, but it was locked. The police officer nearby apparently noticed this and decided to watch what our client did next. The police officer may have suspected that our client would urinate in public soon.
While our client was certainly hidden from view from the street and even neighbors, he was cited for public urination, a violation of Penal Code § 372 (public nuisance). The ticket, which he signed with a promise to appear in the Torrance Courthouse in a few weeks, said the ticket was a misdemeanor.
He took the ticket back home, wondering what it meant for his future. While he wanted to downplay it as probably nothing big, when he got on the Internet and researched what is means to be prosecuted for a misdemeanor, he became more concerned. Some websites mentioned six months in county jail and fines of up to $500, plus penalties and assessments. Some websites false stated that one could be ordered by a judge to register as a sex offender under Penal Code § 290 for life if convicted for public urination (our office has never seen this happen). Our client tried to convince himself that this could not be what he faced, but he was not sure.
He called several attorneys, some of whom confirmed his worst fears, and then spoke with Greg Hill. Greg explained his experience in handling dozens of such cases and reassured him that this was not a jail case and if there were a fine, it would be minimal. Greg also explained that if a case involved indecent exposure while urinating in public, registration might be involved, but the client would not be cited for public urination: he’d instead be arrested for indecent exposure (Penal Code § 314).
Greg further explained that since the client had no prior criminal history, was accomplished academically and had steady employment, a prosecutor may even choose to resolve the case via a form of diversion, which Greg then explained. After all, a “high achiever” such as a licensed attorney is someone who learns from one’s mistakes readily.
Greg then appeared on the client’s behalf in the Torrance Superior Court for the client’s arraignment. The client remained at work.
The Torrance District Attorney handling cases for Manhattan Beach, once she heard the circumstances of the arrest, agreed with Greg Hill that the problem was perhaps more related to excessive alcohol consumption than to urinating in a place visible to the public. After all, the client made an attempt to use a porta-potty first and then tried to obscure himself from others, even though it was dark. This negotiating approach by Greg is often not successful in negotiating such cases, but in this case, Greg knew the particular prosecutor well and was familiar with her flexible approach.
The District Attorney agreed that our client could “earn a dismissal” if he went to 20 Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and returned to court showing proof of this within three months.
True to her word, our client then attended 20 AA meetings. Greg then returned to the Torrance Superior Court and showed the District Attorney the AA sign-in sheet. The case was indeed dismissed in the “interests of justice” under Penal Code § 1385.
This dismissal was greatly appreciated by our client, who worked for a large, multi-national law firm and wanted to keep his opportunities for promotion to partner open. The resolution of this case with a dismissal preserved his future.