Under Washington law, it is a misdemeanor offense for a person to tattoo a minor, or someone under the age of 18. The crime is punishable by up to 90 days in jail. If you or a loved one is facing an unlawful tattooing charge, it is critical you contact a skilled criminal defense attorney for help.

What is the Washington Law on Tattooing a Minor?

RCW 26.28.085 is the Washington statute on applying tattoos to minors. The law states that:

“Every person who applies a tattoo to any minor under the age of eighteen is guilty of a [crime].”

For purposes of this statute, “tattoo” includes:

  • Any permanent marking or coloring of the skin with any pigment, ink, or dye, or
  • Any procedure that leaves a visible scar on the skin.

Medical procedures performed by a licensed physician are exempted from this code section.

What are the penalties?

Tattooing a minor is a misdemeanor (as opposed to a felony offense). The crime is punishable by:

  • Custody in county jail for up to 90 days, and/or
  • A maximum fine of $1,000.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. Fortunately, people accused of tattooing a minor can challenge the accusation with a legal defense.  For example, the word “tattoo” has a precise legal definition under RCW 26.28.085. A defendant, then, can try to show that he/she did not technically “tattoo” a minor.

Further, the law in question only applies to minors. Therefore, defendants can try to establish their innocence by showing that the alleged “victim” was not a minor. Note, though, that if defendants use this defense, they must show that they made a bona fide attempt to ascertain the true age of the minor. An accused can typically make this showing by providing evidence that he/she checked the minor’s ID.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge an unlawful tattooing charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced defense attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 25 years of combined experience defending clients on tattooing minor charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these types of cases. Our attorneys will also fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!