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Public intoxication is no longer a crime in NYC

Neither is public urination. But . . . don’t do either.

On Tuesday, June 13, New York City lessened some of the penalties associated with public drinking and public urination. The measures are intended to reduce the backlog of criminal cases that are crowding NYC courtrooms.

It may also help immigrants in the U.S. without documentation or who are here on DACA status to avoid being targeted for removal. 

Public intoxication may still net you a ticket

It is important to note that it is still against the law to be publicly intoxicated, and of course you cannot urinate on city sidewalks. But moving forward, police can issue tickets to offenders, which will be handled in the civil court system, similarly to how minor traffic violations are treated.

In 2016, over 100,000 people were arrested for either public intoxication or urinating in public. The New York Police Department released its new policy in accordance with the Criminal Justice Reform Act, passed by New York City in 2016.

It can still be a crime, in some circumstances

People with criminal records can still be charged with a crime for being intoxicated or urinating in public. You can be arrested if you are currently on parole or you have two felonies in the previous two years. This could include felony DWI charges.

Really, NYC is not condoning urinating in public

Reducing the number of people charged with a crime is a good goal. A criminal charge, even if a misdemeanor, can still have significant consequences, including coming up on a background check for employment.

Still, no one wants a ticket. And public intoxication as a crime is usually associated with other behavior that can certainly still lead to a criminal charge, including assault, drunk driving and other crimes.

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