Urinating in a Public Place
Urinating in a public place is a summary offence. In the ACT, it can be dealt with by way of a Criminal Infringement Notice or if the accused elects to do so, it can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court.
Criminal Infringement Notice
When a person receives an Infringement Notice for urinating in a public place, they receive a fine of $200. If the accused wants to take the matter to court to contest the charge, they can do so. However, if found guilty of the offence and sentenced by a court they face the much higher maximum penalty of a fine of 10 penalty units (currently $1,600).
Section 393A of the Crimes Act 1900 provides that a person commits an offence if the person urinates in a public place (other than in a toilet). The maximum penalty is a fine of 10 penalty units.
Urinating in a public place is a strict-liability offence, meaning that the prosecution does not have to prove that you intended to commit the offence. The prosecution has only to prove the physical element of the offence.
The defences of mistake of fact and of sudden and extraordinary emergency remain available.
What must the police prove?
To convict you of urinating in a public place, the Prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt that:
- it was you;
- and you urinated;
- and you did so in a public place;
The most common ways to defend this charge are:
- It was not you who committed the act (Identification defence)
- To argue that you were there but did not urinate or that you were not in a public place;
- sudden or extraordinary emergency.
Section 41 of the Criminal Code 2002 provides that a person is not criminally responsible for an offence if the person carries out the conduct required for the offence in response to circumstances of sudden or extraordinary emergency.
This applies only if the person reasonably believes that—
- circumstances of sudden or extraordinary emergency exist; and
- committing the offence is the only reasonable way to deal with the emergency; and
- the conduct is a reasonable response to the emergency.
The courts have often held that merely being “caught short” is not enough to constitute an emergency, with Magistrates telling defendants that they should have visited the toilet before leaving home or the premises they were attending, or that they should have found a public toilet. A common “call of nature” has not been seen judicially as either sudden or extraordinary. That said, every case must turn on its own facts and circumstances and the defence remains open.
Which court will hear your matter?
The offence is a summary offence and can only be finalised in the ACT Magistrates Court.
Can I get time to pay my infringement?
Yes. If you receive an Infringement Notice, you have 28 days from the date of service of either the infringement notice or the reminder notice.to apply for an extension to pay the fine.
If you fail to pay the infringement notice penalty within 28 days from the date of service, a reminder notice will be served on you. An additional fee of $34.00 is charged by the ACT Government for the cost of serving the reminder notice.
Can I alter the penalty?
No. Infringement penalties have been legislated by the ACT Government and cannot be altered or reduced. However, they can be disputed in court. If you dispute the infringement penalty, the court reserves the right to increase the penalty.
Withdrawal of an infringement notice
If you have been served with a Criminal Infringement Notice or a reminder notice, you may lodge an application for withdrawal of the notice within 28 days after the date of service. Withdrawals are rare .Applications should be made to the Chief Police Officer.
Criminal infringement notices cannot be withdrawn on the basis of financial hardship or compassionate grounds.
If you lodge an application for withdrawal of an Infringement Notice for urinating in a public place and your correspondence contains certain content your application will be adjudicated as a Notice of Dispute and referred to Court. If the content of correspondence to the Chief Police Officer indicates that you:
- do not agree with, or object to the imposition of, the infringement notice;
- deny that you have committed the offence;
- are calling into question the evidence for issuing the infringement notice;
- are appealing or contesting the infringement notice;
- are disputing the infringement notice,
then the matter will be referred to the court for determination.
Disputing an infringement notice
If you have been served with a Criminal Infringement Notice or a Reminder Notice, you may lodge a Notice to Dispute liability within 28 days after the date of service.
Disputed infringement notices will be referred to the ACT Magistrates Court for determination.
You may also apply for an extension of time to dispute liability for the criminal offence within 28 days from the date of service on the notice or reminder.
If you require advice on urinating in a public place or any other legal matter phone Armstrong Legal on 1300 038 223 or send us an email.