According to California Penal Code Section 466, it is prohibited to possess certain tools that experience by law enforcement has shown to be instruments frequently used by thieves for breaking into a home, car, or another structure. It is not unlawful to possess these tools as long as there is no evidence to show criminal intent.
California Penal Code Section 466
Penal Code 466 lists over 15 kinds of tools that are frequently used to break into any railroad car, building, trailer coach, aircraft, vessel, or vehicle.
- Slim Jim
- Tubular lock pick
- Bump key
- Master key
- Tension bar
- Floor safe door puller
- Ceramic or porcelain spark plug chips
- Vise grip pliers
- Lock pick gun
- Key bit
- Slide hammer
What Elements must be Established to Convict the Defendant?
The prosecutor must establish the following elements to convict the defendant of possession of burglary tools:
- The defendant had in his possession tools prohibited in California PC Section 466; and
- The defendant intended for the tools to be used in the commission of a criminal offense
The intent of Using Tools in the Commission of a Criminal Offense
For being charged with possession of burglary tools there must be evidence showing that the defendant not only possessed them, but he also had criminal intent to use them to carry out a burglary.
When considering all factors, everything that has been gathered gets taken into account, including physical evidence, witness testimony, and what happened when the defendant was arrested. The intent may be established in case all steps were taken to possibly complete the crime. Intent can be established through what the defendant was wearing at that time, what type of structure he was in when arrested, the hour of the day, types of tools he possessed, and statements he made before the crime.
Legal Defenses to California PC Section 466 Charges
- Defendant didn’t have criminal intent
For being convicted under PC Section 466 it is not enough to have the mentioned above tools in possession or even to alter or make the listed tools. The crime happens when a defendant possesses one or more tools and intends to unlawfully break into a rail car, structure, vessel, or vehicle. In case the defendant didn’t intend to unlawfully enter a vehicle or structure to commit a crime, he can’t be convicted of this crime.
- The defendant did not know the tools he possessed were used in a burglary
The defendant should not be convicted of possessing burglary tools in case he wasn’t aware that the tools were used or were to be used in a crime of burglary.
- Illegal search and seizure
All search and seizure operations must be carried out within the boundaries of the law. In case the tools were found during an unlawful search, the defendant may be able to have evidence obtained during the search kept out of court. That can lead to acquittal or dismissal. There are various factors involved that can determine whether a search was lawful or unlawful.
Penalties for Violating California Penal Code Section 466
In California possession of burglary tools is a misdemeanor offense with the following penalties:
- Up to six months in a county jail
- Summary probation for up to three years
- A fine up to $1,000.
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has been charged with possession of burglary tools, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today at (310) 943-1171 for a free consultation and case review.