Our client, age 25, went to Hermosa Beach to meet a few friends from work and enjoy a beer or two with dinner. He was an engineer who worked enormous hours and had not been out with friends for months due to COVID 19 restrictions. Finally, however, he met up with friends and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.
At about 10:15 p.m., the group decided to call it a night and each person headed home. Our client walked out of the bar and realized he needed to use a restroom. The bar had a long line of people waiting to get in, so he knew he had to find another place to relieve himself. A few other bars nearby also limited those who could enter, so our client walked out to the beach where he knew there were some public restrooms.
Our client walked to public restrooms near Hennessey’s and Scotty’s at the foot of the Hermosa Beach Pier. He walked up to the first one and pulled on the restroom door. It was locked. He tried the second restroom. It was locked. He tried the third restroom door. It was locked, too. He then realized all the restroom doors were locked.
Frustrated and quite urgently having to urinate, our client then decided to urinate near the drain by the public outdoor shower.
No sooner had he finished urinating than he heard a voice behind him saying, “Excuse me, sir. Excuse me.” Our client then turned around to find a uniformed Hermosa Beach Police Officer standing behind him. The officer asked out surprised client for his driver’s license and explained he was being cited for public urination (actually, a violation of Penal Code § 372, public nuisance).
Our client protested that the public restrooms were all locked, so he had no choice. The officer asked him why he did not just go into one of the local bars or restaurants and our client explained that the lines were too long and he could not wait that long.
The officer then completed the ticket and asked our client to sign a “Promise to Appear” at the bottom of the yellow ticket. The promise our client agreed to was to appear in the Torrance Superior Court at 825 Maple Avenue in Torrance in about four months.
As the police officer handed back the client’s driver’s license, but before he could hand our client the ticket, our client then allegedly ran away. A second police officer nearby, however, immediately ran after our client and caught him before our client could run even twenty yards.
Our client was then handed the ticket and the officers appeared to leave.
Our very frustrated client then took a video of himself showing each of the public restroom doors by the Hermosa Pier were locked.
The next day, the client called Greg Hill & Associates and told Greg his story about receiving the ticket and the locked public restroom doors. He then e-mailed Greg a link to the video, which he posted on YouTube to show his experience.
Greg explained how such cases are generally handled in Torrance Superior Court, but commented that he hoped this case would be handled differently because the usual comment from the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor, handling such cases for Hermosa Beach, is “well, your client did not have to urinate in public. There are public restrooms available at the Hermosa Pier.”
Greg received the video and forwarded it to the head Redondo Beach City Prosecutor, identifying our client and his ticket number and asking that no case be filed because our client tried doing exactly what the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor recommends in each case to avoid such a charge.
The Redondo Beach City Prosecutor did not respond to the email from Greg and the day for the arraignment then arrived. Greg appeared on behalf of the client in the Torrance Superior Court and got the client’s case file, which had the “standard” offer to all people charged with violating Penal Code § 372: defendant could “earn an infraction” by making a $550 “donation” to the City of Hermosa Beach Nuisance Abatement Fund and pay a $10 court fine, plus penalties and assessments, to the Los Angeles Superior Court or perform 77 hours of community service.
Greg then showed the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor his e-mail to the head Redondo Beach City Prosecutor and asked for a better offer, explaining the situation did not exactly meet the legal definition of entrapment and likewise did not exactly fit the definition of necessity or duress, but the locked public restroom situation was certainly mitigating of our client’s conduct.
The prosecutor countered that it indeed was, but the offense took place at just 10:15 p.m., well before the bars become crowded, and our client tried to run away.
Greg then asked the judge to impose judicial diversion on our client so our client could “earn a dismissal” and have the arrest report and court file sealed under Penal Code § 1001.95. The judge then asked the prosecutor what terms she thought were fair and she said a $350 fine or 30 hours of community service, which the judge then imposed.
Greg returned to the office and explained the terms of judicial diversion to our client, who was extremely happy with the outcome, saying he was thankful Greg fought for him.
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