02 October 2009

Tattooing Children and Circumcision...

Novel legal arguments have always fascinated me, and this is a novel legal argument. Enrique Gonzalez had his seven-year-old son tattooed with a gang sign. The tattoo is on the young boy's hip, and was tattooed by Travis Gorman. Gonzalez was charged with mayhem. A mayhem charge in California attracts a life sentence.

The judge of Fresno County Superior Court, Hillary Chittick, has still to decide whether the mayhem charge is warranted. In any event, the lawyers for Gonzalez and Travis argued that the tattoo, which is about the size of a quarter, failed to satisfy the statutory requirement of permanent disfigurement. The lawyers went even further by suggesting that circumcision is a more painful and permanent disfigurement than a tattoo.

Personally, I do not think parents should be allowed to have their children tattooed. However, I am not certain that a mayhem charge is the most appropriate charge in this case. It would seem that the fact that the father and the artist are involved in a gang might have played into the seriousness of the charge laid. Nevertheless, there needs to be some penalty imposed. However, I wonder whether tattooing a child is sufficient to sustain a charge of child abuse.

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