Hermosa Beach, Public Urination, Plea to Infraction, $50

Our client, age 24, held a prestigious engineering job that he had worked extremely hard for, earning a bachelor’s degree from a well-respected school and a master’s degree as well.  However, when his friends from his undergraduate program summoned him to enjoy a few beers in Hermosa Beach, he decided to join them.
In 50 Words or Less:  Hermosa Beach, Public Urination, $50 Fine Plus Penalties and Assessments, Charges Reduced from Misdemeanor Public Nuisance (Penal Code § 372) to an Infraction Violation of Penal Code § 374.3.
Hours later, near 2:00 a.m., our client was walking to the new parking structure just north of the downtown Pier Plaza area.  He knew he had a long drive home and regretted not visiting the men’s room before leaving the bar.
It was too far of a walk back to the bar and he anticipated a rush of people trying to leave the parking structure at just after 2:00 a.m., so he decided to treat the space between two cars in the parking lot as a men’s room.

As soon as our client began urinating, a Hermosa Beach police officer seemingly popped out of nowhere to write our client a ticket for violating Penal Code § 372 (“public nuisance”), a misdemeanor.  Our client’s brain began spinning.  He thought he may lose his job once the next, periodic background check revealed the charge.  He thought all his hard work and his valuable degree was in jeopardy.

The client called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg Hill.  Greg listened to the story and recommended that the client attend ten AA meetings in the hopes that the case could be reduced to an infraction.  The client, however, wanted a dismissal or even no filing.  He also knew that on periodic security examinations, he would be asked if he attended AA, so he did not want to make himself vulnerable by doing so.

Greg suggested then that he could perform community service instead through Habitat for Humanity or Heal the Bay.  While such community service is not free, like AA’s are, it is often viewed by prosecutors favorably. 

The client then performed five days of community service even before the arraignment.  Greg wrote a long letter to the Hermosa Beach City Prosecutor, explaining the client’s pedigree and how his job could be lost by the mere filing.  Greg also explained how our client had done community service in advance as a token of his regret for his conduct.

Greg then discussed the case several times, both in person and via e-mail with the city prosecutor, trying to avoid a filing.  However, the city prosecutor would never commit to any approach on the case and ultimately, one day before the arraignment, advised Greg that he would be filing the case as a misdemeanor.

At the arraignment, however, the prosecutor discussed the case again and amended the complaint to allege a violation of Penal Code § 374.3 as an infraction.  The prosecutor also reduced the fine to just $50, the lowest fine Greg had seen on such a case.

The client was happy that the fine was so small, but still a bit glum that the case was even filed after all he and Greg had done in advance.

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