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California Penal Code 653 PC Tattooing a Minor

July 2, 2021 California Penal Code

California’s statute that makes a crime for a person to tattoo, or to offer to tattoo, a person under the age of 18 is Penal Code 653 PC Tattooing a Minor. The crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months behind bars and fines of up to $1000.00.

 

The language at 653 PC states that

 “Every person who tattoos or offers to tattoo a person under the age of 18 years is guilty of a misdemeanor. As used in this section, to “tattoo” means to insert pigment under the surface of the skin of a human being, by pricking with a needle or otherwise, so as to produce an indelible mark or figure visible through the skin. This section is not intended to apply to any act of a licensed practitioner of the healing arts performed in the course of his practice.”

Some strong legal defenses that can be raised to combat PC 653 include demonstrating that an accused did not “tattoo” a minor, was a licensed practitioner of the “healing arts,” and/or, got arrested without probable cause.

 

Possible Penalties on Conviction

 

Violators of California Penal Code 653 are charged with a misdemeanor punishable by incarceration in the county jail for not more than six months, and/or, a maximum fine of $1,000.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will explain the following in this article:

  1. Tattooing or offering to tattoo a minor: Legally defined
  2. What are the best legal defenses to charges under Penal Code 653 PC?
  3. Connected penalties, punishment, and sentencing
  4. Related offenses to 653 PC Tattooing a Minor

 

  1. Tattooing or offering to tattoo a minor: Legally defined

In short, the California Penal Code 653 PC states that it is a criminal offense if a person either tattoos or offers to tattoo a child under the age of 18 years.

Pursuant to PC 653, “to tattoo” means to insert pigment under the surface of the skin of a human being, by pricking with a needle or otherwise, so as to produce an indelible mark or figure that can be seen through the skin.

 

One exception under this code section applies to licensed practitioners of the “healing arts.”  If these professionals prick a minor’s skin with a needle in the course of their practice, then they are not guilty of tattooing a minor.

Such professionals can be occupational therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, medical assistants, or acupuncturists.

 

  1. What are the best legal defenses to charges under Penal Code 653 PC?

Defendants accused under PC 653 can challenge the accusation by raising one of these strong legal defenses that can get a charge reduced or even dismissed.

Three top defenses to PC 653 accusations are

  1. The “Did not tattoo” defense

For example, a person that puts a temporary tattoo on a child is not guilty of a crime because he did not prick a needle into the child’s skin to insert ink.

  1. The “Licensed practitioner of the healing arts” defense
  2. The “No probable cause” defense

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that police must have probable cause for them to detain or arrest a suspect of a crime. If an individual was stopped or arrested for violating PC 653, and there was no probable cause, then any evidence the police collected following the improper stop/arrest could get excluded from the case.  This exclusion may very well result in the dismissal or reduction in charges.

 

  1. Connected penalties, punishment, and sentencing

This crime is charged as a misdemeanor punishable by incarceration in the county jail for not more than six months and/or, a maximum fine of $1,000. Please note that in lieu of jail time a judge may order a defendant to misdemeanor probation.  This is also known as “summary” or “informal” probation.

 

  1. Related offenses to 653 PC Tattooing a Minor

Three other crimes are related to the tattooing of a minor:

  1. PC 272 – contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The crime is committed when an adult acts, or fails to act, and as a result a minor becomes a dependent of the juvenile court system, a juvenile delinquent or a habitual truant.
  2. PC 273(a) – Child endangerment. This law punishes someone who willfully exposes a child to pain, suffering, or danger.
  3. PC 273(g) – lewdness or intoxication in the presence of a child

If you or your loved one has been accused of a crime under California Penal Code 653, you are welcome to contact the California criminal defense attorneys at Spodek Law Group for a free consultation.

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