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Day 28/07/2010

Ridiculous, but not illegal

Wearing saggy pants that hang from your thighs and expose your underwear may be ridiculous, but it is not illegal, a Bronx judge has ruled.

“While most of us may consider it distasteful, and indeed foolish, to wear ones pants so low as to expose the underwear … ‘people can dress as they please, wear anything, so long as they do not offend public order and decency,'” Criminal Court Judge Ruben Franco wrote in People v. Martinez, 2009SX048784.

In April 2009, defendant Julio Martinez received a summons because, as the arresting officer wrote, Martinez wore “his pants down below his buttocks exposing underwear [and] potentially showing private parts.”

The sole charge was disorderly conduct and the sole factual allegation was that the defendant wore his pants troublesomely low.

Penal Law §240.20(7) defines “disorderly conduct” as intentionally “caus[ing] public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creat[ing] the risk thereof [by creating] a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act serving no legitimate purpose.”

… The judge cited a Wikipedia article, which defines “sagging” as “a manner of wearing trousers … below the waist, hanging below the waist area and therefore revealing much of the underwear.”

Lawmakers in Atlanta and Louisiana, among other places, have proposed banning the low-slung style. In New York, however, the right to wear pants as low as one wishes, so long as decency is not offended, remains unabated, the judge concluded.

“The Constitution still leaves some opportunity for people to be foolish if they so desire,” Franco wrote, quoting People v. Gorman, 274 N.Y. 284.

(via New York Law Journal)