Can Urinating in Public Count as Indecent Exposure?

Accidental acts of exposure can still count as indecent exposure. It really isn’t a loophole in the law, and functions more as a maximum deterrent for lewd behavior. For some locations, the laws for urinating in public can lead to harsh penalties.

urinating in public
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Keep It Professional

Urinating in public can be a touchy subject depending on where you’re located. For reference, it is illegal in every state to urinate in public. Sex crimes attorneys will have a lot of work to do if their client is caught in an indecent exposure case involving urination. But the hardest part about this law is how it is implemented, and in some situations has more to do with social awareness than the actual law.

The important part to remember is that professionalism will make a big difference in a case. That includes when the incident first happens, and during the case. How an individual presents themselves can be the ultimate weapon in their future defense. When indecent exposure becomes a social issue instead of an issue dominated by a specific law, it makes public urination a bit more difficult to analyze in the courts.

On The Road

A vehicle isn’t the same as your home, so treating it as a domicile won’t really fly in the courts. If you have regular non-tinted windows, then indecent exposure laws still apply. But there is a small loophole, and it is one that millions have dealt with in their life – emergency peeing in a bottle. In this situation, peeing in a bottle doesn’t really count as indecent exposure.

There are of course other factors that go into this very small sample. Simply peeing in a bottle won’t get you in trouble on the road, but smiling and waving at other drivers while peeing is a clumsy move. In that situation, you go from emergency urination to calling attention to yourself. What seems like a tongue in cheek response to being embarrassed while on the road turns into a potential case for harassment.


There are two zones to be aware of when urinating while camping. The area that is defined as public, and the area that is known as the wilderness. You can’t turn a normal tourist campground into a public restroom without consequences. But there is nothing wrong with using the bathroom in the woods if it is off of public land. If you’re unfortunate enough to use the bathroom on private land, then that opens up the door for trespassing and indecent exposure charges.

Landowners will place signs all over the area, so accidentally going on someone else’s property is highly unlikely. If you’re ever in doubt about whether it’s safe, then look around. A vending machine, water fountain, or any other human creation within 20 ft. means you are still deep within normal human civilization. Move further, but safely into the woods to find a spot that won’t risk putting you on a sex offender list.

Be Smart

The best way to avoid going to court is by not breaking the law. In a modern world with an endless number of cameras, urinating in public is a guaranteed court date. Don’t urinate in public, and indecent exposure charges will never be a problem.

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