Possession of Burglarious Tools
Elements of Possession of Burglarious Tools
In order for a defendant to be found guilty of possessing burglarious tools, the Commonwealth needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant intentionally possessed an implement or a tool;
- Such an implement or tool could reasonably be used to break into a room, building, safe or vault, or a place where valuables are kept;
- The defendant knew the implement or tool could reasonably be used for that purpose; and
- The defendant specifically intended to steal from, or commit a crime in, that place.
Items commonly used for innocent purposes, such as chisels, screwdrivers, or kitchen knives, can be considered “burglarious tools” if they can be used to break into a room, building, safe or vault, or a place where valuables are kept, and the items are possessed for that reason. An experienced prosecutor can argue that any sharp tool is actually a burglarious instrument that should not have been in the defendant's possession.
An attempted break-in is not necessary to convict a defendant of possessing burglarious tools. The crime is completed upon the defendant’s possession of the burglarious tools. However, burglarious tools are often seized from people who are under arrest for breaking and entering, and both crimes can be charged simultaneously.
Possession of burglarious tools cases can be defended in a variety of ways.
- Defendant’s Intent – The Commonwealth is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the tool could reasonably be used to break into a structure and the defendant specifically intended to use the tool in that manner. If the tool could be used in a lawful manner (which is almost always the case), it is sometimes difficult for the Commonwealth to prove that the defendant intended to use the tool unlawfully. Attorney Spring will present any alternative theory to the jury at trial, including whether the tools could have been used for the defendant’s employment. Any item that qualifies as a burglarious tool can typically be found in a contractor’s work truck.
- Motions to Suppress – These types of items are ordinarily discovered when the police are searching a suspect’s clothes or bags. There is almost always a question of whether the police were justified in conducting a search of the defendant, which will almost always be done without a warrant. Attorney Spring will file motions to suppress the allegedly illegal items in cases where the police conducted questionable searches.
A felony conviction is always a serious matter, and you can be at a serious disadvantage if you are represented by an unqualified, incompetent attorney. Attorney Chris Spring prosecuted burglarious tools cases when he worked as an assistant district attorney, and he has defended the same charges as a defense attorney. He has tried hundreds of cases in his career and has been successful in defending these charges. If you are charged with possessing burglarious tools, you should call Attorney Chris Spring and schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your options.