Our client, age 22, went to the downtown Hermosa Beach area with a few friends before the group returned to college in cities outside Los Angeles for the fall semester. Many in the group had gone to high school together, so the get-together was cherished, made only more appreciated because the bars had been shut down for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now they were open again.
They all intended to enjoy a few drinks, so they took Ubers to the downtown area so they would not be tempted to drive back and risk a DUI arrest.
The group had dinner together and then went to Baja Sharkeez on the Pier Plaza area.
After about 1:00 p.m., the group decided to call it a night and call Uber to go home before the traditional rush of those leaving the bars at closing time an hour later.
Someone in the group suggested they go and check out the waves, so they all walked out on the Hermosa Pier together to a point where they could see the size of the surf.
As they were returning to the area where Uber picked up those from Pier Plaza, someone in the group announced he had to urinate. Someone else in the group said “me, too.” So, the group spread out a bit for privacy and each one decided to urinate in a separate area along 11th Street, near the corner with Beach Avenue, which are two of the streets bordering the large, ground level parking lot behind Baja Sharkeez, American Junkie and the Lighthouse Café on Pier Plaza.
Just as the group was doing so, a Hermosa Beach Police Department SUV drove by and spotted the group, each standing with their backs to the road and in a stance recognizable immediately as a male urinating. The officers stopped their car and got out.
One of our client’s friends noticed the police SUV and stopped urinating. The police approached him first and looked over at our client, who allegedly peered over his should while urinating on a fence, but did not stop urinating. One officer walked over towards our client and patiently waited while our client continued urinating.
The officer then asked for our client’s driver’s license and issued our client a ticket for violating Penal Code § 372, “Public Nuisance,” a misdemeanor. Our client’s two other friends also received a ticket for the same thing. Each young man signed the ticket, promising to appear in the Torrance Superior Court in a about six weeks. The officers then left.
A few days later, after our client had returned to college to start his senior year, the client’s father called our office to ask about such a ticket. The client had no criminal history and was soon to be applying for employment upon graduation from college, so having a misdemeanor on his record was of great concern.
The father spoke with Greg Hill, who explained how such tickets are generally handled in the Torrance Courthouse. Greg explained how the City of Redondo Beach Prosecutors handle such cases on behalf of the City of Hermosa Beach and what the general terms of resolution are, although Greg also stated that the new judicial diversion law would apply to the client.
Greg then explained how judicial diversion (at Penal Code §§ 1001.95 – 1001.98) applied and his experiences with seeking judicial diversion in other cases.
Judicial diversion, as the reader may be aware, is a program whereby a qualified defendant facing a misdemeanor may request that the judge suspend proceedings for up to two years during which time defendant will have an opportunity to earn a dismissal. Certain offenses, such as domestic violence (both Penal Code § 273.5 and § 243(e)(1)), stalking (Penal Code § 646.9) and any sex offense requiring registration under Penal Code § 290. The program is available to those who have even been in diversion programs in the past.
Greg recommended that the client attend ten Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings (via Zoom due to continuing COVID-19 concerns) prior to the arraignment, as public urination at 1:30 a.m. in downtown Hermosa Beach is usually contributed to by alcohol consumption over the time immediately prior.
The client then retained Greg Hill & Associates and attended ten AA meetings prior to the arraignment. Greg then appeared on the client’s behalf at the arraignment.
The Redondo Beach City Prosecutor assigned to the arraignment court for misdemeanors in Torrance (Department 3) explained her offer was for the client to earn a dismissal by making a $350 “donation” to the Hermosa Beach Nuisance Abatement Fund and perform 30 hours of community service. The case would then be dismissed in six months.
Greg then showed the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor the client’s proof of attending ten AA meetings. The Redondo Beach City Prosecutor responded that her offer would not change.
Greg then sought judicial diversion from the judge, who did consider the ten AA meetings and stated he would dismiss the case in two months if the client attended ten more AA meetings and made the $350 nuisance abatement contribution or performed 20 hours of community service.
On behalf of the client, Greg accepted the judge’s offer of judicial diversion. The client was happy that Greg was tenacious in trying to get the best offer for him. He agreed to attend ten more AA meetings and make the $350 “donation” to earn a dismissal.
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