Possession of Burglary Tools

Criminal Defense Attorneys Representing Clearwater Residents

Criminal laws have a reputation for being surprisingly vague and difficult to understand. There are many sources of this problem. The writers of criminal statutes sometimes desire them to be purposefully vague and broad so that many types of conduct are covered under the words of the statute, allowing police and prosecutors to charge as many people as they can. The process of a bill becoming law also contributes to the problem. Bills must go through committees, are edited and added to multiple times, and sometimes become law looking far different than originally written. Unfortunately, our elected officials are not always the smartest members of our society, and that can cause the production of confusing and unwieldy laws.

One criminal law that suffers from this problem is that of “possession of burglary tools.” Because the law suffers from needless breadth, innocent people suffer the consequences. Police, especially those patrolling lower income neighborhoods, are often looking for reasons to stop, search and arrest people that they believe look suspicious. And the vagueness of the burglary tools statute gives such officers a legal way to detain and arrest people who may not have done anything wrong at all. If you have been arrested or charged with possession of burglary tools. You should contact and experienced Clearwater criminal defense lawyer right away.

Elements of the Crime

In order to prove someone guilty of possession of burglary tools, the prosecution must prove that the defendant was in possession of any “tool, machine, or implement with the intent to use the same, or allow the same to be used, to commit any burglary or trespass.” A common them among vague and overbroad statutes like this one is that it gives no indication or definition of what a burglary tool actually is. There is no “burglary” section at Walmart or on Amazon where potential robbers can simply search for tools specifically designed for burglary. In fact, “burglary tools” that people end up charged with are often simple household items like screwdrivers, backpacks or other tools commonly found in toolboxes.

In order to distinguish between what is a burglary tool and what is a simple household item, courts are required by the law to look to the intent of the defendant. The law requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the tools were intended to be used to commit a burglary or trespass. The state can attempt to prove this in several ways. Prosecutors can turn to circumstantial evidence. For example, if police find you at a property you have no reason to be, peeking into windows or trying to open doors, and they find a screwdriver or bolt cutter on your person, the state can argue that your suspicious activity is proof that you intended to commit a burglary or trespass with those tools.

One of the most common ways that law enforcement proves intent on crimes like this is to use your own words and statements against you. Before or after an arrest, police and investigators will often decide to question you about what happened. Too often, we see that our clients decide to make statements to the police. Police are trained to make those they are investigating trust in them. Police often make claims that indicated being truthful or admitting to crimes will help out in the long run. Police, however, are allowed to and are encouraged to lie to people they are investigating. Talking to the police will usually only result in evidence that prosecutors will later use against you. Don’t ever talk to the police without first discussing your case with a skilled and experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney.

Talk to a Lawyer Today

The lawyers at Hanlon Law are here to build the best defense for your case. We have the experience and reputation to negotiate and fight on your behalf. Call us today at (727) 897-5413.