Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In How Many Ways Can One Urinate?

I recently received a questionable parking ticket (but aren't they all questionable?) inside of which there was a little green card telling me my case could be dismissed if I entered in the Restorative Justice Community Action program. Of course, I wasn't eligible for such a program because my fine was only $34 and it says in giant bold letters on the flier that this program is for non-traffic offenses only (which makes one wonder why it's included in a parking ticket...), but I'm glad such programs exist. Most of the eligible offenses (drinking in public, loud music, loud dog, loitering, posession of a small amount of marijuana, etc.) are the exact kind of minor crimes I would argue are best punished by community service and no record, rather than an excessive fine and damaging criminal record.

But what interests me most about the list of offenses is that there is not one, not two, but three separate categories of public urination. You can be charged with disorderly conduct public urination, indecent conduct public urination, and indecent exposure public urination. I suppose I can guess the difference between the last two, but I'm not quite sure what the difference is between indecent and disorderly conduct.

A quick google search failed to shed any light on the definitional differences, but with my limited knowledge of the criminal justice system, I know there's likely a very hazy delimitation of what makes one's urination more indecent than disorderly. Either way, though, there's something to think about the next time you really need to go and there's no bathroom in sight, because you may be committing somewhere in the neighborhood of three crimes at the same time...

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