How to Beat a NYC Public Urination Ticket or Summons

Introduction to the Public Urination Summons

So, you received a pink summons in New York for public urination? What next? Well, before you read any further, you need to read my previously published legal guide entitled Public Urination in New York: A Lawyer's Guide. Once you've read that, you're almost ready to read how to get your Public Urination summons dismissed.

But first, you should be aware that a New York Public Urination summons is NOT a parking ticket. Public urination is a crime and the New York criminal courts treat it as either a misdemeanor or a violation. A parking ticket will NEVER appear on a criminal record transcript, but a public urination misdemeanor conviction absolutely WILL appear on your criminal record transcript, so act accordingly.

By law, a summons or ticket may be dismissed for facial insufficiency (as discussed in more detail below). The term 'Facial Insufficiency' means that the summons fails to adequately describe: (1) The defendant; (2) The violation; (3) The location; (4) The citing officer or (5) The facts that gave rise to the citation. Any of these defects may render a summons to be deemed facially insufficient.

Whereas a New York City Parking Judge must dismiss -- on his own -- a parking ticket for even the slightest defect, a New York City Criminal Court Judge will only do so upon motion. That means that if you fail to raise the issue before the Judge, he or she will not dismiss the summons. Worse yet, even with a facial deficiency, many judges will refuse to dismiss a defective summons in New York Criminal Court. For that reason, I always recommend to at least have a lawyer review your summons for facial insufficiency. Some lawyers will provide a free review of your public urination ticket, open container summons or disorderly conduct summons.


Pink Summons Analysis

A Detailed Analysis of a NYC Criminal Court Pink Summons.
A Detailed Analysis of a NYC Criminal Court Pink Summons. | Source

The Public Urination Summons

Let's start by taking a detailed look at your NYC public urination summons or ticket. As an example, I've marked up an NYC Pink Summons for Disorderly Conduct below:

Each NYC Pink Summons Ticket can be broken down into ten (10) key sections.

  1. SUMMONS NUMBER: At the very top of the New York public urination summons is the summons number. This 10-digit number will usually begin with a '4' and is used to track the summons through the criminal court system.
  2. IDENTIFICATION: The top section of the pink summons ticket (marked #2) contains your name and address as indicated on the identification provided to the police officer who wrote out the summons. While summonses are tracked by the Summons number, your criminal court case and record are tracked by the identification provided to the citing police officer. This means that if you give the police officer your brother's driver's license, your brother will be the name called in court and in the event that you fail to appear, a warrant will be issued in your brother's name. This also means that if the police officer spells your name wrong or mixes up your first and last (or middle) name, the information will be processed as indicated on the summons. If this is the case with your summons, speak with a criminal defense lawyer before deciding to skip out on your court appearance. Many potential employees find their hiring process is held up by similar names or close matches in a criminal record search.
  3. TIME, DATE, COUNTY and PRECINCT: The next section contains important information to satisfy the facial sufficiency requirements of the summons. This means that the summons must contain the time, date and county to sufficiently establish when and where the crime/violation occurred. Failure to establish the time or date of the incident would constitute sufficient grounds for a motion to dismiss.
  4. PLACE OF OCCURRENCE: This section of the pink summons is used to describe the location of the alleged incident. The location description may abbreviate a corner such as 'C/O 47th and 5th Avenue' or a specific address such as 'F/O 575 Fifth Avenue'. The description of a place of occurrence that does not exist is grounds for dismissal upon motion to the court.
  5. IN VIOLATION OF: Beneath that section, on the left (marked #2) is where the police officer has indicated the specific statute or law that was violated. 99% of the time, you will see 153.09 or 16-118(6) handwritten in this section. 153.09 is the Health Code violation, which is treated by the courts as a misdemeanor. 16-118(6) is the Administrative Code violation, which is treated by the courts as a violation. Failure to indicate the statute or the proper statute is a facial defect that should require dismissal by the judge.
  6. DESCRIPTION OF CRIMINAL COURT OFFENSE: Immediately beneath the violation, the police officer must indicate the name of the violation. For the most part, this will read either 'Urinating in Public' or 'Public Urination', but occasionally simply reads 'Urination'. If this section is left blank, but the correct violation statute (#5) is listed, the judge probably will not dismiss the summons.
  7. COURT LOCATION and DATE: The pink ticket is an actual summons, and in this section it states that 'The Person described above is SUMMONED to appear at CRIMINAL COURT' followed by the address of the courthouse and the date on which you or your New York criminal defense lawyer must appear before the court. The failure to direct the defendant to appear in court is a facial deficiency that should require dismissal, but some of the judges will deny a motion to dismiss on this basis.
  8. SIGNATURE OF COMPLAINANT: The complainant is the police officer who wrote out the summons. Occasionally, you will get lucky and find that the police officer forgot to sign the summons. On proper motion to the Court, a summons lacking the signature of the complainant should be dismissed by the Judge.
  9. YOUR SIGNATURE: Beneath the Police Officer's signature line is a space for you to sign and acknowledge receipt of the summons. This section is NOT REQUIRED to be completed and the failure of a defendant to sign this section is not grounds for a dismissal.
  10. THE BACK OF THE SUMMONS: This is the equivalent of the hidden ball trick. You think you're seeing the entirety of the summons but the law requires the officer to provide a sworn statement of personally observed facts to accompany each summons. Therefore, even if the police officer has not made any mistakes or errors on the face of the summons, the summons may still be deemed defective if the officer fails to indicate that he personally observed the defendant urinating in public. Unfortunately, you don't get to see the back of the summons until you appear in Court. This is where having an experienced criminal defense lawyer comes into play. Failing to properly describe the alleged incident may result in a dismissal upon motion by your public urination attorney.

About the Author

Attorney Jason Stern has been practicing criminal law and representing defendants in New York for 15 years, during which time he has also served both New York City and New York State as an Impartial Hearing Officer, Administrative Law Judge and Small Claims Arbitrator. As an attorney, legal expert and media personality, he has appeared on or been featured in The New York Times, Fox News, Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, CNN, US News & World Report, Headline News, Huffington Post, ABC, Dallas Morning News, Men's Vogue, BBC Radio and countless other media outlets.

And yes, his firm will gladly provide a free review and telephone consultation to discuss your NYC Public Urination summons. Just mention 'Hubpages' when contacting me HERE.

Criminal Courthouse Locations and Directions

show route and directions
A marker346 Broadway - New York Criminal Court -
346 Broadway, New York, NY 10013, USA
[get directions]

This is where most New York public urination tickets are adjudicated.

B marker314 W 54th Street - Midtown Community Court -
314 W 54th St, Manhattan, NY 10019, USA
[get directions]

C marker125-01 Queens Boulevard - Queens Criminal Court -
125-01 Queens Blvd, Jamaica, NY 11415, USA
[get directions]

D marker88 Visitation Place - Red Hook Community Justice Center -
88 Visitation Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11231, USA
[get directions]

E marker120 Schermerhorn St - Kings County (Brooklyn) Criminal Court -
120 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
[get directions]

F marker215 East 161st Street - Bronx Criminal Court -
215 E 161st St, Bronx, NY 10451, USA
[get directions]

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