London’s mayor praises Berlin’s means-testing for public offenses

…[Boris] Johnson writes somewhat hyperbolically that Berliners “fornicating in their many magnificent parks” is currently the city’s “most serious public order problem.” But even there, Johnson finds reason to love Berlin: The fines for public sex, after all, are means tested, he notes — meaning that those on welfare don’t have to pay as much should they be caught fornicating in the fresh air.

…the fine for public sex is €150 ($198) while the unemployed are faced with a penalty as low as €34 ($45).

See, Anatole France wasn’t right after all.

The full story is here.


Boris is a bit of a bonker himself; he litters London with his bastards.

How's Berlin doing for city funds? Are they still playing that sexy-but-poor or poor-but-sexy card?

Always have, always will. Germany is happy to have one metropolis, one somewhat international city, so the rest of us will pay.

Nice example of the wide-spread German self-denigration. As if Berlin was the only international city in the country. (And even that only "somewhat".)

I've never been able to figure that baffling mix of simultaneous self-denigration and intense pride that makes up such a lot of stereotypical Germanness.

Well, let us just quote a couple of things from the article -

'Still, the London mayor can rest easy. It is only illegal to have sex outdoors if you disturb others by doing so. Couples that take a few extra steps into the woods are unlikely to be disturbed.'

'In 2012, there were 234 cases where a fine was levied for violations of the law covering sex in public (but also other minor infractions), twice as many as just three years prior.'

As for the quote about the law forbidding the rich and poor from doing something? This has nothing to do with it - the 234 cases of infraction clearly involved various income levels. Only punishment was not unfirm, something which the U.S. is fully cognizant of. To use a Reagan era drug war example, the difference in penalties when the drug involved was cocaine - either in powder form, or as crack.

The difference in Berlin was in the levied fine - and since when are fines levied uniformly in the U.S. outside of traffic law infractions?

American law is written with a broad range of penalties (though ending at a maximum level, obviously). Or can no one recall a single case where an infraction was penalized with a $1 fine, instead of a more normal one.

And this case is a perfect illustration of American law -

'Defendant John Doe appeals from a judgment of conviction for public lewdness in the Gateway National Recreation Area, in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 7.29(c). After a non-jury trial, Magistrate Judge Steven Gold found John Doe guilty and sentenced him to a fine of $ 1.00 and a mandatory special assessment of $ 5.00. The Court has jurisdiction over this appeal pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3402.


As Magistrate Judge Gold immediately recognized, John Doe was clearly not guilty of "intentionally expos[ing] the private and intimate parts of his body in a lewd manner," since he was fully clad when arrested by Officer Nicoletti. (Tr. 16-17.) In addition, there was insufficient evidence to convict John Doe of section (b) of the offense, since there was simply no evidence that John Doe acted with intent that he be observed. Indeed, the evidence clearly indicates the contrary. Accordingly, the only issue in this case is whether John Doe was guilty of committing a lewd act "in a public place."


The Court finds that the government failed as a matter of law to prove that the act occurred in a public place. Officer Nicoletti testified that in order to observe the defendant's activities, he had to walk off the bicycle path and "into the shrubs." (Tr. 10-11.) The only photograph entered into evidence depicts an area that, even in broad daylight, is dark and shrouded with shrubbery. (Defendant's Exhibit 2-H.) Moreover, John Doe's arrest took place, not in daylight, but at 8:45 on a Sunday evening. In this appellate posture, the Court is duty bound to construe the facts in the light most favorable to the government; the Court may not, however, fill in evidence that is not there.'

We do means testing in the US as well.

If you can afford it, you hire a good lawyer to get you off, or with a lighter sentence.

If you have sex in public enough you might actually lose money by getting a job.

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