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Texas Public Urination: Take a Leak & Register as a Sex Offender

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Dealing With a Charge of Public Urination in Texas

It happens too often in the state of Texas. A few friends need to use the bathroom. Every place nearby only lets someone who is a patron use their facilities. A decision is made to relieve themselves in an alley or behind some cars. Doing this may seem to many people like something that is harmless. The laws of Texas see it differently.

According to Texas law, if someone is urinating in public, even if done out of the sight of others, they can be charged with indecent exposure. This is covered in section 42.01 of the Texas Penal Code.


Indecent Exposure

Any time a person exposes their genitals with disregard for others nearby, it is considered indecent exposure. Texas law also covers indecent exposure as:

An individual who exposes their genitals or anus for the purposes of sexual arousal or gratification from another person

An individual in Texas can be charged with indecent exposure should they urinate in a public area where another person could observe them.

Criminal Penalties

In the state of Texas, the cities and counties will usually also address the charge of public urination based on their own local ordinances. It is common for different cities to have very different penalties when it comes to public urination.

Some Texas cities may have a specific ordinance designed to deal with public urination. Other cities may attach this offense to a larger category of criminal offenses. One city may charge a person with disorderly conduct for urinating in public. Another city may have public urination as part of indecent exposure charges. This is a very serious charge. It could require a person to pay a fine, spend time in jail and more.


In Texas, indecent exposure is a misdemeanor crime. If found guilty, a person could:

  • Spend up to 180 days in a county jail
  • Pay restitution as well as a $2,000 fine and more
  • Serve probation
  • Perform community service

It is possible for the judge trying a case to believe the act of public urination was conducted with the intent to provide sexual gratification. This may lead them to put a person convicted of this offense on the sex offender registry. This is often the case when the individual who urinated in public did so when children were nearby.

There is also a good chance of this happening when an individual is a repeat offender. Being put on a sex offender registry could cause problems with a person’s employment opportunities, where they are able to live, and more. This is the type of offense that will follow a person around for the rest of their lives.


It is possible for law enforcement to issue a ticket or summons even if they just suspect someone of public urination. It does not matter if there is actual proof. Should a law enforcement officer simply see an individual unzipping their pants, but not urinate or expose their genitals, they can still legally give the person a ticket or summons.

They can do this even if there aren’t any laws covering attempted public urination in their jurisdiction. There is a common legal situation. A ticket or summons is given to an individual who hasn’t actually urinated in public, and it is lawful.


There are many situations where public urination is difficult to prove. It is common for men to be facing a wall or corner with their back toward people when this happens. Should a law enforcement officer’s view of what is occurring be blocked, it may be difficult for them to be certain they actually saw the accused urinating in public.

It is possible an accused person could have been fixing their zipper when it was stuck. They could also have been adjusting themselves to relieve a feeling of discomfort. It is rare for a law enforcement officer to witness an individual in the act of public urination.

Necessity Defense

It is accepted in Texas courts that necessity could eliminate the criminality of public urination. This is considered a public policy decision. Many feel a person should not be punished for this crime. An attorney may ask a court to think about two major influences in this situation. They should think about:

  1. The harm avoided with such a law in place
  2. The impact the crime has on society

It is possible an individual who is homeless may meet the requirements of having a necessity defense against a charge of public urination. A defendant may be able to show a court there were no public restrooms available for them to use. It is also possible for a defendant to show they have a medical condition that requires them to urinate often.

Legal Defense

In many situations, a defense attorney will carefully review the facts of a case and recommend their defendant accept the public urination charge. This could happen if the only thing required by their client is to pay a small fine. It may be a simple case of paying a fine and moving on with life. There could also be extenuating circumstances.

This may be a case where a defense attorney is able to successfully plead their client’s case to get the public urination charge dropped. It’s also possible for their client to have been charged with indecent exposure. A defense attorney will try to show there was no sexual motivation involved in the act. They will try to get charges dropped or a reduction in charges if possible.

Hiring An Attorney

Even if an individual is charged with a misdemeanor, a conversation with a criminal attorney can make a big difference in their life. Most people believe the cost of having a charge dropped or removed from a record outweigh any legal costs. Many people find that having an attorney go to court for them is a financial benefit. Their work or business does not have to be impacted. This is also valuable should an individual need to go to court more than once. Many people find this the best way to handle a stressful and embarrassing legal situation such as a charge of public urination.

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