If you’re like most Americans, you probably have a few tools sitting around in your garage that you break out when working on a project or building a piece of IKEA furniture. But did you know that, under certain circumstances, possessing hardware like screwdrivers, crowbars, and hacksaws can be a violation of the law? In fact, almost any item that could be used to force entry into a building or pick a lock can be what the state calls a “burglar’s tool” if a person possesses the item with the intention of using it to commit burglary or some other crime.
Of course, owning tools without any intention of committing a crime isn’t against the law, and law enforcement is unlikely to conduct a search of a home to look for basic tools. But if police have reason to suspect that you have or will commit burglary or a similar crime, you may face charges for having tools associated with these crimes.
When Is Owning a Screwdriver, Crowbar, or Hacksaw a Crime in Florida?
While Florida criminal law penalizes those who commit burglary or similar crimes with fines and imprisonment, the state also criminalizes possessing tools that are used to perpetrate these crimes. For instance, if you were found in possession of a hacksaw and had the intention to use the instrument to cut through a chain to steal another person’s property, you may be charged with possessing burglary tools.
Under Florida Statute Section 810.06, it’s considered unlawful for an individual to have in their possession any tool or machine with the intention of committing burglary or trespassing. Possession of burglary tools is a third-degree felony, with penalties of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. To prove this crime in Florida, the prosecution must establish the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant planned to commit burglary or trespass
- The defendant did a flagrant act toward the commission of burglary or trespassing
- The defendant possessed a tool, machine, or implement that they planned to use in the commission of burglary or trespassing
In other words, the prosecution won’t be able to know your state of mind, and therefore, you must have performed an action that showed you were following through with that intent. As you might expect, it can sometimes be challenging to prove that a common tool you had in your possession means you intended to commit a crime.
What Is a Burglary Tool?
Tools that may be considered burglary tools, in this case, include:
- Bolt cutters
- Lock picks
- Master keys
- Ceramic spark plugs
- Wire cutters
As stated, just possessing any of these tools isn’t a crime, per se. So how does a prosecutor show that the defendant possessed a tool with criminal intentions? Sometimes, the defendant will confess. Other times, the defendant’s illicit objectives can be determined by the circumstances such that a jury or judge could reasonably conclude that they possessed these tools with the intent to commit burglary or a similar crime.
Penalties for Possession of Burglary Tools in Florida
A viable defense strategy is essential when a person is charged with possession of burglary tools, as the penalties can be harsh. The offense in Florida is a third-degree felony, with penalties that include up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000 for individuals that are convicted of the crime. Likewise, this crime will likely accompany other crimes, such as burglary.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in West Palm Beach
If you’ve been arrested for possessing burglary tools, don’t try to handle the situation alone. Hiring the right legal professional is the first step toward giving yourself a chance to win your case. For assistance, look no further than The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel. You can be assured that Attorney Brian Gabriel will fight for you.
Contact The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel to learn the steps you should take after being arrested for possessing burglary tools. Attorney Brian Gabriel has served the community of West Palm Beach for more than 30 years as a criminal defense attorney. He understands the complexities that are often involved in these cases and can guide you on the right course of action to protect your reputation and future. Call (561) 622-5575 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.