When Owning a Screwdriver is Illegal
Sometimes, something that is seemingly innocent is enough to get someone charged with a crime, even something as simple as owning a screwdriver. Of course, law enforcement is unlikely to conduct a search of a home to look for basic tools, unless they have reason to. So, when does law enforcement have sufficient reason to search for these tools? It is not uncommon when a person is suspected of committing burglary or criminal trespass.
The Law on Possessing Burglary Tools
The Florida Statutes are quite clear that the possession of burglary tools in the state is illegal. The statute outlines that when a person is found in possession of any machine, tool, or other implement with the intention of using the devices to commit burglary or trespass, they can be charged with a third-degree felony. For example, if a person was found with a hacksaw and it was proven that they had intended to use it to cut through a chain, they may be charged with possession of burglary tools. Some of the most common tools that are considered to be used for burglary include:
- Bolt cutters
- Lock picks
- Wire cutters
However, simply being found in possession of these tools is not enough for someone to be charged or convicted of a crime.
Proving Intent to Commit a Crime
The Florida Supreme Court made an important ruling on the possession of burglary tools that is important for anyone charged with the crime. In Calliar v. State, the court overturned the defendant’s conviction because it was found that the prosecution did not present enough evidence to prove Callier was using the tools to commit a crime. Calliar v. State, 760 So. 3d 885 (Fla. 1999).
Due to this case law, the lack of sufficient evidence has become a very common defense in cases involving the illegal possession of burglary tools. Other defenses can include mistaken identity of the defendant, and an unlawful search that resulted in law enforcement finding the tools.
Penalties for Possessing Burglary Tools
A solid defense is essential when a person is charged with possession of burglary tools, as the penalties are very harsh. The offense in Florida is a third-degree felony, with penalties including up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000 for individuals that are convicted of the crime. People that are convicted of possession of burglary tools are also often charged with other crimes, such as burglary, which comes with additional penalties that are much more severe. For this reason, it is essential that anyone facing charges seeks legal help as soon as possible.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Florida Want to Help with Your Case
If you have been charged with possession of burglary tools, or any other crime, our experienced Orlando criminal lawyers at O’Mara Law Group want to help with your case. Call us today at (407) 634-6604 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys and to learn more about how we can help with your case.