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Effective June 16, 2017. the NYPD no longer sends its public urination summonses to New York City Criminal Court. Instead they send these tickets to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings ("Oath" Court ). If you received a public urination summons in New York City after June 16, 2017, your summons is handled by the OATH Court and you are now probably trying to decide whether you should 1) just admit to the charge and pay the agreed upon fine or 2) hire a lawyer to fight the charge.
When People call me after they are charged with a violation of 16-118(6), the first thing they usually ask me is whether a conviction for 16-118 public urination can be seen by background checkers.
Prior to June 16, 2017--when these public urination summonses were still being handled in criminal court-- I told my prospective clients that background checkers would have to physically go to the clerk's office at 1 Centre Street and give the clerk the name and birth date of whoever they were checking before they could see any record for the person. In any event, the clerk--assuming that the background checker gave them the correct name and birthdate-- could only see records of pending cases and guilty pleas, dismissed cases were not made available to the public. In other words, only when there was a conviction-- either through a guilty plea or conviction after trial-- would the clerks be allowed by law to reveal any information about anyone's prior public urination summonses. On the other hand, a summons that was dismissed was not a public record and was sealed under CPL 160.50. A summons that was dismissed for any reason was not available to the background checkers.
When the new Oath Court came into effect, the protections afforded by CPL 160.50 no longer applied because the Oath Court is considered "civil." The rules have changed and people charged with public urination under the new regime no longer receive the protection they had in the Criminal court with CPL 160.50. Persons now charged with violations of public urination under 16-118 are placed into a public database that is searchable and available online to the public.
Although, one could argue that the public data base is not a completely new development since even when the public urination summonses were handled in the New York City Criminal Court Summons Parts, the pending cases were publicly available online through E Courts and Web Crims.
HOWEVER, there is a huge difference between how the disposed public urination summonses are now handled in the Oath Court compared to how they were handled in the criminal court.
The huge difference is that ALL closed (disposed) cases are now available to the public right at their fingertips. It is not just the pending cases that are available to the public. And because New York City classifies the Oath Court as civil, the protections of CPL 160.50 do not apply and even dismissed cases are online and searchable on the NYC Oath Court Website. Indeed, the new public online Oath Court database appears to include all disposed (closed) public urination cases regardless of whether they are just pending, have been resolved through a plea or have been dismissed.
Now that you know that your public urination summons will be publicly available regardless of whether you are convicted or acquitted, you may have the information you need in order to decide whether to fight it or just pay it. Call me at 212-786-2999 if you want to discuss your summons.
For years, Public Urination or Urinating in Public has been a commonly charged offense in NYC. Typical recipients of a public urination summons are professional, hard-working, law-abiding individuals. The type of person who usually never has anything more serious than a parking ticket.
The usual lead-up to a public urination charge is someone heading home or to their hotel after a late night in the City. A restroom is needed but there isn't one available. But what is in sight is a seemingly secluded and dark spot in an alley or behind a dumpster. Seemingly, the perfect spot to go. But suddenly out of nowhere-- NYPD officers appear with summons pad in hand. The cops ask for identification, then hands over a pink ticket directing the surprised individual to appear at NYC Oath Court.
The ticket (aka summons or citation) will usually read as either "public urination" or urinating in public" and the police write it up under 116-18(6) of the New York City Administrative Code.
People are being told by the officers (as the officers are handing them the summons) that a public urination summons is no big deal and that they should just plead guilty and mail in the 50 dollars for the summons. IF YOU ARE THINKING OF MAILING IN A GUILTY PLEA to a public urination summons written up under 16-118(6)..reflect on it for a while
Admitting guilt and mailing in the fine means that the public, including employers, colleges, background checkers, friends and family and political opponents will be able to find it online. Sure, it may not seem like a big deal here in New York with just a $75 dollar fine. However, public urination is a copntroversial offense whether it is classified as civil or criminal. People have different opinions about it. In fact, an article in Men's Health that reviewed Human Right's Watch 2007 survey of sex offender laws said that some states consider public urination as a sex offense.
Remember that mailing in a guilty plea or paying online or in person means a permanent conviction. So, even when the summons is not embellished and merely says urinating in public, it is still a conviction. These days, applications for jobs, licenses, schools etc., often ask about convictions for everything other than minor traffic offenses. It is always better to be able to answer "NO" on any application that asks about convictions for violations. Once a person answers "yes" to such a question, they are usually then required to explain on a separate sheet of paper the details of the conviction. Oftentimes the applicant is even required to attach a copy of the charging documents. The bottom line is that any person who envisions filling out a lot of applications in their future should think seriously about forgetting the mail in or online pay option. Instead, they should consider hiring a lawyer to seek a dismissal.
Hiring a lawyer to seek a dismissal--even in New York City-- is a lot easier and cheaper than many people think. Call me at 212-786-2999 and ask me about my no-hassle, reasonable flat fee to handle a public urination summons. I have had a lot of success at getting these cases dismissed. I also have discounted rates for students. If you are a college student with high aspirations, have just entered the workforce, are a professional, or are contemplating a career change, it is worth the small flat fee that I charge to get this charge dismissed and off your permanent record.
Understanding the difference between the 16-118(8) and the 153.09
After handling hundreds of NYC Public Urination charges, I have concluded that the decision by the NYPD to choose between writing it up under 153.09 of the Health Code or 116-18(6) of the New York City Administrative code is arbitrary. Perhaps a particular police officers is more familiar with either one or the other statute and just writes it up under the statute know best. Oddly enough, both of these statutes deal with littering liquids and not specifically with public urination.
While the conduct leading to either the 153.09 or the 16-118 is the same--urinating in public-- the legal difference between the two provisions is potentially significant. When charged under the Health Code, 153.09, public urination is a Misdemeanor, which is a CRIME under New York Law. A person convicted of public urination under this provision would have a permanent criminal conviction on their record. Criminal convictions in New York cannot be sealed, erased or expunged.
When the public urination summons is written up under New York Administrative code Section 16-118(6), urinating in public--even though it involves exactly the same conduct as 153.09-- it is a violation. As stated above, Violations under New York State Law are not crimes and there is a lesser chance that a conviction for a violation would need to be disclosed on a job or professional license application. However, you are still better off getting rid of the violation because if you do not there will be a permanent public record that you pee'd on the sidewalk.
Whether the public urination charge is written under 153.09 or 116-18, a Dismissal --usually in the form of an ACD ("Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal")-- is the best way to get rid of one of these citations. A dismissal allows the charge to be sealed pursuant to CPL 160.50, and that means that it is essentially invisible to and out of the reach of the public and background checkers and that will drastically reduce the chance that it would turn up in a background check.
Getting an ACD or other form of dismissal at 346 Broadway for a public urination charge is not easy without hiring a lawyer to go into court prepared and ready to make a cogent argument for why you deserve an ACD. There are circumstances that can be brought up at the time of arraignment on the charge which can persuade the Judicial Hearing Officer to dismiss the charge outright or to offer an ACD. If you have one of these citations pending--whether it is a 153.09 or a 16-118-- and you want to discuss your chances of getting it dismissed, call Robert Briere at 212-786-2999 for a free consultation, or if you prefer to send an email use the form to the left. Ask about my flat fee and my discount for college students.