When you have to go, you have to go. Right? Although it's not considered in good taste, it's not uncommon for men to urinate in public when the urge is strong and more proper facilities can't be found. Public urination was even the subject of a funny Seinfeld episode, where two of the main characters Jerry and George decided to take care of their business in a parking garage. But did you know that in reality, public urination could actually land you on a sex offender registry list? And that act isn't the only seemingly minor offense that can leave a permanent mark on your record that could haunt you for a long time, if not for your entire life.
Urinating in Public
According to Slate, you could end up on a sex offender registry list if you are caught urinating in public in at least 12 states. Why? Because in these states, the act could be considered indecent exposure or public lewdness. And if you plead or are found guilty, you'll need to register as a sex offender. And that means your neighbors, coworkers and anyone else interested in knowing whether they live near a sex offender can find your name and address in the database alongside rapists and pedophiles. Your crime will be listed, but not the important details that will let your coworkers know that your act was not as serious as they might assume.
So what other relatively innocent crimes could land you on a sex offender registry list?
- Streaking. While you might think running naked in front of others is a funny gag, you could end up with an indecent exposure conviction.
- Being naked in your own home. If your door or windows are open and your neighbors can see you and complain to the police, the simple act of being naked in your own home could be considered a crime.
- Having a questionable picture on your phone. An assistant principal investigating a sexting incident at the high school he worked for had a copy of a partially undressed girl sent to his phone in front of other administrators as evidence. He was arrested on several charges, including possession of child pornography, and was also fired. Fortunately, his lawyer was able to get him cleared of all the charges.
- Flashing your breasts. Think that only men can end up on a sex offender registry? Then you would be wrong. A woman flashing her breasts or anyone flashing their tush could also be arrested for indecent exposure or lewd behavior.
It's important not to take an arrest for any of these types of "crimes" lightly and to hire a lawyer to defend you against all charges that may have been filed against you. Being on the sex offender list comes with many serious consequences. For example, it could seriously impact your ability to get a job or could even cause you to become the target of local vigilantes if they should discover your name on the sex offender registry.
New Hope for Past "Crimes"
In some states, laws have been passed that will allow people who have had to register for the sex offender list for these types of relatively innocent crimes to fight to have their names removed. In 2014, for example, Oklahoma, just such a law went into effect. Not surprisingly, hundreds of convicted "sex offenders" have now hired lawyers to help them get their names purged from the list.
So if you currently have a similar offense on your record, it is imperative that you speak with a lawyer to see if the laws in your area have changed regarding your crime or if there is anything else they can do to help you to have your name removed from the sex offender registry. Contact a firm like The Law Office of Israel S Hernandez, PLLC for more information about how laws like this might impact you.