Each fifty states have their own distinct laws with regards to tattoos. Some will need both artists and tattoo parlors to be licensed. Meanwhile, other states will only mandate the artist to register with their county. With that said, the answer to whether it is legal to tattoo yourself in your house may not be true to every state. For California, laws establishing the standards of tattooing can be found in the California Safe Body Art Act. The act, otherwise known as Assembly Bill (AB) 300, defines tattooing as an act of using a needle to inject pigment into a person's skin.
To perform tattoos, the artist must meet certain requirements in the state of California. They are as listed:
- The tattooist must adhere to the health and safety protocols of the California Conference of Local Health Officers;
- Both tattooists and tattoo shops must be licensed;
- The tattooist must get a signed “informed consent” and important medical data from each customer;
- All tattooing equipment must be properly sterilized;
- All tattooists must register with their local government, get a Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) training certificate, and get vaccinated for Hepatitis B. These must be renewed every year; and
- Tattoo shop owners must have their establishments inspected by their respective health agencies.
All of these standards must be observed and applied in all tattooing events. It can be in a temporary tattoo facility, body art event, or in an authorized vehicle. A person cannot practice tattooing if he/she is not a licensed practitioner. Likewise, tattooing is not allowed if it is being performed in an unlicensed location. In other words, yes. It is illegal to get a tattoo in your home. Unless your residence is a licensed tattoo facility and you are a licensed tattooist, then it is completely fine to perform body arts to yourself and to other people. Other than that, you can only conduct tattooing services in a licensed permanent or temporary body art establishment. The most obvious reason why tattooing from home is illegal is due to health and safety concerns. Diseases such as HIV/AIDS can be transmitted from one person to another if the needle is not properly sterilized.
California Penal Code PC 653 - tattooing or offering to tattoo a person under the age of 18
Meanwhile, California also has its own unique penal code when it comes to inking a minor. The California Penal Code PC 653 prohibits the act of tattooing or offering to tattoo a person under the age of 18. Any individual who violates such PC is guilty of misdemeanor. The defendant may also be sentenced to six months in county jail on top of a mandatory $1,000 fine.
Punishments for Tattooing at Home or Other Unlicensed Tattoo Parlors
There are several scenarios wherein the court convicts a person guilty of violating the California Safe Body Art Act. The most common example would be if the individual is an unlicensed tattoo practitioner and performed body art to others. Furthermore, the owner may also face penalties if he allowed an individual under the age of 18 to ink customers. If found guilty, the defendant may face the following punishments:
- He/she is mandated to pay a civil penalty of $500 at maximum;
- A licensed tattoo artist and/or establishment may have their permits suspended or revoked; and
- Other punishments may be added on top of the case if found guilty of other laws (e.g: tattooing a minor).
If you're a tattoo artist dreaming to make a name for yourself in the industry, the possibility of having your license stripped away from you can end your career for good. In fact, one of the most overlooked scenarios that often leads to conviction is when an artist performs a tattoo in an unlicensed location. To save your reputation and career, it is highly advised to get a criminal defense lawyer at your side. A defense attorney will help you avoid the legal consequences for a crime that you may not have committed. Furthermore, there are more complexities involved in this case that an average civilian may not fully grasp. For all endeavors involving the law, it is always the best decision to seek help from experienced criminal attorneys here at The Law Office of Raoul Severo in California.
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