Public Indecency, Public Urination and Registered Sex Offender Databases

Why is Public Urination a criminal offense that places some people on a registered sex offender list?

Each state list, by statute, the criminal offenses that qualify one for inclusion in a sex offender database.

Of course, violent, sexually oriented crimes such as Rape will get a person placed on the list as will other sexually oriented crimes such as Gross Sexual Imposition (G.S.I.). But some “lesser” offenses, such as Public Indecency, will trigger a listing as well.

This is because sexually oriented offenders are very likely to escalate their offenses, it’s important to make sure law enforcement get offenders on their radar early.

So, back in the 1990’s, when these list were originally developed, the politicians who made these laws included Public Indecency as a sexually oriented offense worthy of placing a person on the list. And rightly so.

But, here’s what happened when the law was implemented in the real world (on the street)…

When a person discreetly urinating behind a dumpster in an alley was caught by a police officer, the officer would commonly cite the person for “Public Indecency” rather than for the more technically correct “Public Urination”.

Sometimes this was because the officer could prove the elements of Public Indecent rather than the elements of the crime of Public Urination. Sometimes, I’m convinced, it was simply the way the officer was trained to handle Public Urination.

But, that meant, by law, the conviction for the non-sexually oriented “Public Indecency” did land the person on a registered sex offender list and triggered all the associated fallout. IE. Restrictions on where one can live, check-in’s with the Sheriff’s Office, community notifications, etc.

Fortunately, this unintended consequence has largely been corrected. It took years and many men unjustly suffered for having their offenses wrongly categorized, but most places now have adjusted their legislation or enforcement to (hopefully!) keep this from happening.

Why this is Important to You

What this means to Private Investigators is, when conducting a criminal records check or a full background check, you need to pull the Complaint or Affidavit from the criminal file and determine why the person is on a Registered Sex Offender list.

In my experience, in the 20th century, yes, I saw guys land on the list wrongly, but much more commonly (these days) I’ve seen guys lie to potential employers about the criminal convictions that come up in their background checks. In those cases, I’ve always found the offense justified the follow up action. Every time. Every. Single. Time.

That’s my experience. Your mileage may vary.

Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, P.I.

P.S. – And, of course, don’t miss my special report titled… If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here…

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