Penal Code 653 PC | Tattooing a Minor

Penal Code 653 PC | Tattooing a Minor in California

Getting a tattoo can be an exciting rite of passage for many teens. However, California law prohibits tattooing anyone under age 18, even with parental consent. This article explains Penal Code 653 PC, which makes it a crime to tattoo a minor in California. We’ll cover the legal definition, penalties, and potential defenses.

What is Penal Code 653 PC?

Penal Code 653 PC is the California law that makes it illegal for anyone to tattoo a minor, which is defined as someone under age 18. This law applies even if the minor’s parent or guardian has provided consent.

Specifically, PC 653 states that “every person who tattoos or offers to tattoo a person under the age of 18 years is guilty of a misdemeanor.” This includes the tattoo artist, anyone who aids or abets the tattooing, and the shop owner or manager if they knew an employee was tattooing minors.

There are no exceptions under PC 653 – parental consent does not matter. The only exception is for tattoos done for medical purposes by a licensed physician. Cosmetic and cultural tattoos are illegal for minors even with parental ok.

Why can’t I get my kid a tattoo?

The legislature passed this law to protect minors who may make impulsive decisions to get tattoos that they later regret. Teens often lack the maturity and foresight to think about how their tastes may change as they get older.

Tattoos are meant to be permanent. Removing them is painful and expensive. Preventing minors from making permanent body art decisions protects their future interests.

What are the penalties under PC 653?

Violating Penal Code 653 is a California misdemeanor offense. Potential penalties include:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail
  • A fine of up to $1000
  • Informal probation

If convicted, the defendant will also have a permanent criminal record.

Are their defenses to tattooing a minor?

There are several legal defenses that a California criminal defense lawyer may use to contest PC 653 charges, such as:

  • Mistake of fact – For example, the minor presented fake identification showing they were over 18.
  • Entrapment – A law enforcement officer persuaded or coerced the defendant to violate PC 653.
  • False accusations – The minor lied about getting a tattoo from the defendant.

An experienced attorney can evaluate the details of the case and decide the best defense strategy. It is critical to hire legal counsel immediately to avoid incriminating yourself and start building your defense.

Civil Liability in Tattooing Minor Cases

In addition to criminal charges, the minor’s parents may file a civil lawsuit against the tattoo artist for battery and infliction of emotional distress. Compensatory damages for pain/suffering, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees could be awarded.

The tattoo artist may also face civil liability for violating the California Civil Code Section 1714.1, which states:

Any act of willful misconduct of a minor which results in injury or death to another person or in any injury to the property of another shall be imputed to the parent or guardian having custody and control of the minor for all purposes of civil damages, and the parent or guardian having custody and control shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for any damages resulting from the willful misconduct.

The parents could argue the tattoo artist committed “willful misconduct” leading to “injury to the property” of their child. This makes the artist liable for civil damages.

Related Offenses

There are several other laws related to tattooing minors in California:

  • Penal Code 652 – Allows civil penalties up to $2500 for tattooing a minor.
  • Penal Code 654 – Up to 1 year jail for piercing the body of a minor for non-medical purposes.
  • Penal Code 656 – Up to 6 months jail for selling or giving tattooing equipment to a minor.

Contact a Defense Lawyer

Being charged with California Penal Code 653 PC for tattooing a minor can have devastating consequences. Early retention of an experienced criminal defense attorney is critical for the best outcome. A skilled lawyer will thoroughly examine the evidence, develop an aggressive defense strategy, and fight to get charges reduced or dismissed. Don’t leave your future to chance – call an attorney today.