Possession of Burglar’s Tools Charges in Michigan
Unfortunately, the government frequently charges innocent people with Possession of Burglar Tools in Michigan. In many cases, police mistakenly assume malicious intent. There are strong defenses to this felony charge, so do not give up!
Felony Possession of Burglar’s Tools
Under Michigan law, it is a felony to possess a tool to facilitate the theft of money or property from a locked room or container. In almost all cases, an item alleged to be “a burglary tool” can also be used for a legitimate purpose. The only way the prosecutor can prove a defendant intended to use the item, like a screwdriver, for example, for an illegal purpose is by circumstantial evidence unless the police catch the defendant using an ordinary tool to break into a building or container. Circumstantial evidence is always open to interpretation, and prosecutors and police routinely assume that the defendant had a wrongful intent. These assumptions are often wrong, and an experienced, successful attorney for possession of burglar’s tools is your best hope of clearing up a misunderstanding with law enforcement.
What defines a “burglar’s tool?”
A burglar’s tools include “nitroglycerine, or other explosive, thermite, engine, machine, tool or implement, device, chemical or substance, adapted and designed for cutting or burning through, forcing or breaking open any building, room, vault, safe or another depository, to steal any money or other property.”
An additional required element that a prosecutor must prove is that the person in possession of such items possessed them, “knowing the items were adapted and designed for the purpose” of breaking into a secure area or vault. As can be imagined, a person may possess items that could qualify as burglar’s tools but which the person had no intent to use illegally. Tools that law enforcement frequently misconstrues as burglar tools include screwdrivers, hammers, utility knives, crowbars, and bolt cutters.
The prosecution has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended or knew the tool was intended or designed for breaking and entering into a building, container, or vehicle and that the person did not otherwise have a lawful or good faith reason to possess the tool. A defendant’s best hope of avoiding a conviction is with a superior attorney for possession of burglar’s tools who has a track record of winning in court and who commands the prosecutor and judge’s respect.
Defending a Burglar’s Tools Felony Charge
Let’s take this example: a welder may possess items designed to cut through steel, such as welding torches and thermite. These items are commonly used daily for legitimate reasons in welding businesses, auto repair shops, plumbing businesses, junkyards, and surplus bulk steel businesses, to name a few. The intent of the person charged is most important because such items are probably a favorite tool for breaking into a safe or locked door. If the defendant did not possess or intend to use the items breaking into a building, container, or safe, they are not guilty of any crime.
An experienced and savvy defense attorney could construct a defense argument that their client’s possession of the torch or thermite or any other tool was innocent. They can similarly defend the possession of crowbars and bolt cutters. It will be up to an experienced criminal defense attorney to credibly and persuasively show that possession was innocent and there was no criminal intent.
Penalties for Possession of Burglary Tools
The penalty for this felony is up to 10 years in prison or one (1) year in jail with up to five (5) years of probation. The old law was enacted in 1846, and the last update was in 1931, which may play a part in why the penalty is so heavy. When this law was passed, people, businesses, and cities did not have credit or insurance available to the extent we do today. Cash and precious metals were critical and relied on far more than today, and the government exacted severe punishments for their theft. A highly qualified criminal defense attorney can attack the charge in many cases, with or without a confession.
In cases where the evidence is overwhelming and there is no defense, prison or jail is not mandatory. In such a case, the defense attorney’s job would be to do everything possible to convince the judge not to order incarceration and give the defendant a chance on probation. Under certain circumstances, it may be possible for the defendant to enter a guilty plea under advisement, ultimately resulting in the dismissal of all charges.
Possession of Burglar’s Tools Defense Attorneys
If you face Possession of Burglar’s Tool charges, you need a top-rated savvy criminal defense attorney on your side to shield you from the heavy penalty it carries. The dedicated, experienced, and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Michigan. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation while showing empathy and care for each client.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.