Hermosa Beach, Charge of Public Nuisance, Plea to Infraction

Our client emerged from a Hermosa Beach bar just before 2:00 a.m., intent on making it back to the parking structure to the north of the Hermosa Beach Pier before the surge of others leaving the bars at closing time, 2:00 a.m.
Synopsis:  Client Caught Urinating in Hermosa Beach Alley, Charged with Violating Penal Code § 372 (“Public Nuisance”), Case Resolved for Infraction for Disturbing the Peace (Penal Code § 415(2)).
He grew up in the area, but was in town while on Christmas break from a Midwest university.  He was 21 and eager to finally enjoy the Hermosa Beach bars.  He had finally done so, legally.

His intentions were good, but his execution of his plan left one detail overlooked.  He forgot to use the men’s room before leaving on his way to the parking lot.  This became an urgent issue as he walked towards his parked car through an alley, so he stopped to urinate near a light pole. 

No sooner than he began urinating did a Hermosa Beach Police Officer turn into the alley, in his car with his spotlight on, illuminating our client. 

Our client was quite embarrassed, so he turned his back to the police car and tried to zip up his pants quickly.  The wet mark, however, on the light pole and ground gave him away.

The police officer parked the car and asked for our client’s driver’s license.  He then wrote out a ticket and handed him it for misdemeanor public nuisance (Penal Code § 372).   The officer then had our client sign a promise to appear in the Torrance Superior Court in about two months or else be arraigned the following Monday or Tuesday after spending a few nights in jail.  Our client signed the promise to appear, fearful of spending any time in jail.

Our client was extremely distraught because he was in the process of applying to several graduate programs and feared the arrest and probable conviction for a misdemeanor would ruin his chances for admission to a graduate program.

Greg spoke with the client, listened to the facts, explained the law and recommended that the client attend ten meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.  He stressed it was important to get the initials of the program facilitator to document his attendance at such meetings.  The plan was to show the Hermosa Beach City Prosecutor the client’s efforts to negotiate a plea bargain to an infraction.

Since late 2012, the Hermosa Beach City Prosecutor had been willing to negotiate plea bargains to public dumping (Penal Code § 374), but our client expressed concern that such a conviction would hurt his ability to rent an apartment or condominium in the future if a landlord did a background check, which most do.  Greg agreed.

So Greg sought a plea bargain to an infraction for disturbing the peace for loud music (Penal Code § 415(2)), which may also alarm a landlord, but can be more readily explained as a youthful indiscretion.  The Hermosa Beach City Prosecutor agreed to the deal, but set the fine at a rather steep $250, plus penalties and assessments.

Nevertheless, the client was relieved to avoid a conviction for a misdemeanor and happy to avoid being on probation, which surely would concern any employer.

For more information about the issues in this public urination case summary, click on the following articles:
  1. What Is the Difference Between an Infraction and a Misdemeanor?
  2. What Punishment Do I Face for Public Urination?
  3. What Convictions Require Registration as a Sex Offender under Penal Code § 290?
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