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Public Urination in New York: A Lawyer's Guide

NYC Public Urination


The New York Public Urination Summons

There's nothing quite like New York City traditions in the summertime: Catching some rays on Central Park's Sheep Meadow, a burger and fries at the Shake Shack in Madison Park, the San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy, stumbling out of a bar at 4am and unfortunately, public urination.

For many Manhattan vendors, with the influx of tourists and return home of college students, business picks up in the summer. The same can be said of criminal defense lawyers, who are often called upon to represent residents and tourists alike for violations of New York City's laws against marijuana possession, public intoxication, and public urination. In particular, public urination summons count for nearly half of all citations issued during the summer months.

For the uninitiated, here's what you need to know about public urination laws in New York City:

  • You may not use the streets, alleyways or parks to relieve yourself, regardless of the lack of available restrooms;
  • If you are caught urinating, about to urinate, or after urinating in Manhattan, expect to receive a pink summons (or pink ticket) to appear in Criminal Court (either at 346 Broadway or 314 W. 54th Street); in Brooklyn, you may be summoned to appear at 88-94 Visitation Place; in Queens, public urination summonses are heard at 125-01 Queens Blvd. Here is a complete list of New York City Criminal Courts.
  • There are two laws that prohibit public urination: 153.09 is a Health Code violation and is treated as a misdemeanor; 16-118 is an Administrative Code violation and is treated as a violation;
  • Pleading guilty or being found guilty of a misdemeanor is likely to subject individuals to enhanced scrutiny in job searches, immigration proceedings, and obtaining a business license from New York State or New York City.
  • Pleading guilty or being found guilty of a violation may subject individuals to greater scrutiny in job searches, immigration proceedings, and obtaining a business license from New York State or New York City.
  • Under no circumstances should you plead guilty to any crime without speaking to a criminal defense attorney.
  • Most attorneys charge between $500-$1500 to handle a public urination case, depending on the number of appearances required to resolve the case; however, most competent lawyers should be able to dispense with the case at the initial appearance;
  • Very few criminal defense lawyers regularly handle these types of cases. For the best possible result, defendants should hire a lawyer who specifically handles public urination cases.
  • A highly competent public urination lawyer should be able to obtain an ACD or dismissal in many instances, and under no circumstances will allow a client to plead guilty to or be found guilty of a misdemeanor public urination.
  • The typical fine for one found guilty of a public urination violation is $50.
  • When considering whether to hire a lawyer for your public urination charge, one should also take into consideration that most lawyers do not require your appearance for these types of cases and therefore can save you from taking a day off of work, travel expenses, and sometimes spending hours waiting in a long security line (that is frequently wrapped around the building) and several more hours sitting on a wooden bench in a crowded courtroom.

The bottom line is that public urination is one of the most common 'criminal' activities in New York City and the NYPD enforces public urination laws aggressively. But no matter how ridiculous or absurd you think it is, being charged with a criminal misdemeanor is no joke. Take it as seriously as you take your livelihood.

Good luck!

About the Author

Attorney and author Jason Stern has been featured on or been quoted as an expert or authority for the New York Times, Fox News, Good Morning America, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Headline News, Huffington Post, ABC, CBS, Bottom Line Magazine, Men’s Vogue, BBC UK, Dallas Morning News, US News & World Report and countless other television, newspaper and media.

His criminal defense practice encompasses the areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties.

If you have been charged with public urination and would like a FREE consultation with public urination lawyer Jason Stern, just mention HUBPAGES in your subject and send an email requesting a FREE REVIEW to Jason Stern.

A Sign You'll Never See in Manhattan

A Sign You'll Never See in Manhattan

Location of Criminal Court at 346 Broadway in Manhattan


Law person on August 28, 2014:

The judge really can't decide to reduce a charge or offer a charge lower than the top count on its own. In the end of the day, the decision to charge the misdemeanor or violation is in the hands of the DA office processing the case. Frankly, I don't think I have ever seen a misdemeanor urination count ever charged.

Jason Stern (author) from New York on August 29, 2013:

A New York public urination summons can be charged as a misdemeanor or violation. If you were charged with the misdemeanor and are unable to afford a private attorney, you should absolutely go to court yourself and ask the judge for a reduction to a violation. Ultimately, the decision is up to the judge.

Eddy on January 28, 2013:


I recieieved a public urination summons in december, my first ticket ever, and I am a college student that has already been accepted into a number of law schools, I do not want to go to court over the ticket, but i don't want it on my record either. What are the chances of getting it lowered to a violation myself and paying the fine at the date of my cummons?


Jason Stern (author) from New York on August 06, 2012:

This situation is actually a lot more common than most people believe. Failing to respond to your NYC public urination summons will nearly always result in a bench warrant for your arrest. A bench warrant means that the warrant is issued by the bench (judge) rather than the police.

Having an outstanding bench warrant means that if you are stopped by police for any reason, you can be arrested and taken to jail to ensure your appearance in court.

If you believe you have a bench warrant for your arrest for failing to appear in court, walking into a building filled with police officers is definitely not the best idea.

With your permission, my office can appear on your behalf, make a motion to the judge to remove the bench warrant and resolve your outstanding warrant all in a single court appearance.

Contact my office through one of the links above for a free consultation and fee quote.

saversombie19 on August 06, 2012:

I have a ticket for public urination 2 years ago. I lost the ticket. And i wanna go to court so i can pay the fine. I know i have a bench warrant. Im i gonna get arrested if i go to court now? Thanks

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