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    Does tattooing your child deserve prison time?

    Date: 10.15.09 | by Judge Tom.

    It is well-known in Fresno, California that the Bulldogs are a criminal street gang often targeted by the police. Their logo is a dog paw that adorns many members’ bodies.


    WoofieGrrl (Flickr)

    Over spring break in 2009, 26-year-old Enrique Gonzalez had visitation with his 7-year-old son. Reportedly, while Gonzalez held his son down, fellow gang member Travis Gorman tattooed a quarter-size paw onto the boy’s hip. Gonzalez explained that the boy pleaded for it so he could be like his dad.

    When the boy’s mother discovered the tattoo, she called the police. At first, both men were charged with mayhem which requires malicious disfigurement of another.  It carries the possibility of life in prison if convicted. At a court hearing in October, 2009, the judge dropped the charge to cruel and inhumane treatment of a juvenile with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. It is illegal in California, as in many states, to tattoo anyone under 18. The child has begun laser removal of the tattoo.

    Is tattooing any different than piercing the ears of a newborn or performing a circumcision on a baby boy? All involve a degree of pain, right? Even if the boy did beg for a tattoo to be like his dad, are children capable of consenting to such a procedure?

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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