CA Penal Code 466 PC
PC 466 – Possession of Burglary Tools
Possession of Burglary Tools – Table of Contents
For purposes of clarity Possession of Burglary Tools, is important to first understand clearly what a burglary is in California. California Penal Code 459 possession of burglary tools defines the crime of burglary as entering a structure with the clear intention of committing a felony or theft once gaining entry. Moving on, California Penal Code 466 addresses the crime of being in the possession of tools commonly used to commit burglaries. While this appears vague and seemingly applicable to any number of items, California Penal Code 466 possession of burglary tools actually gets quite specific, listing 19 distinct tools and tool variations within the language of the penal code.
Quoting, in pertinent part, Penal Code 466 states that the following items are considered burglarious tools:
picklock, crow, keybit, crowbar, screwdriver, vise grip pliers, water-pump pliers, slidehammer, slim jim, tension bar, lock pick gun, tubular lock pick, bump key, floor-safe door puller, master key, ceramic or porcelain spark plug chips or pieces.
However, in addition to this rather comprehensive list of devices, California Penal Code 466 possession of burglary tools includes a catchall at the end, adding, “other instrument or tool” to ensure that pretty much any device that could be deemed sufficient for use in breaking in somewhere qualifies. While this seems quite broad and makes it appear as if almost anything anyone is carrying could be deemed a burglary tool, the remainder of the penal code 466 possession of burglary tools clears this up by narrowing the focus.
The key element then of California Penal Code 466 possession of burglary tools states that a person carrying any of the listed tools or any other instrument or tool of any kind must also have, “felonious intent to break or enter into any building, railroad car, aircraft, or vessel, trailer coach, or vehicle as defined in the Vehicle Code.” By requiring there to be felonious intent on the part of the person carrying such tools or devices, this reduces the overly broad scope laid out initially.
In addition to the possession of burglary tools listed above, California Penal Code 466 possession of burglary tools also considers it a crime to “…knowingly make or alter, or shall attempt to make or alter, any key or other instrument named above so that the same will fit or open the lock.” Essentially, in addition to possession of burglary tools that could be used to pick a lock or break in through force, it is also illegal to fashion a key to gain entry to the same structures. As before, this must be done knowingly, which gets to the crux of the whole issue: intent.
The mere possession of one of the burglary tools or instruments, or even a fashioned key for a structure, is not enough to be found guilty of this crime without the requisite mens rea. Lacking the proper intent, an individual cannot be found guilty of violating California Penal Code 466 possession of burglary tools. Say an individual is found in possession of a crowbar and a lock pick gun. While this may appear to be highly suspicious, unless a demonstration of criminal intent to use these tools to unlawfully enter a structure can be proven, then no crime has in fact been committed.
How exactly does prosecution go about proving this criminal intent? Like with many other crimes involving the necessary element of criminal intent, the prosecution will rely on all available circumstantial evidence to build a case for the likelihood of a violation of California Penal Code 466 possession of burglary tools. An example to illustrate this point is useful:
Say that an area has experienced a number of break-ins and burglaries wherein the backdoor was pried open with a device over the last few weeks. Then, one night, an individual is apprehended in the area by police conducting surveillance of the high crime area. The individual is found to be in possession of a crowbar like device. He is dressed in dark clothes and carrying an empty bag. Given these circumstantial facts, it would seem that this individual, given how he is dressed and what he is carrying, is someone most likely in possession of burglary tools to conduct a burglary. As the burglaries in the area were conducted by a device similar to the one the individual is carrying, and he is found in the same area, this may be enough circumstantial evidence to satisfy the elements of California Penal Code 466 possession of burglary tools.
Violating California Penal Code 466 possession of burglary tools is considered a misdemeanor offense. Though this is preferable to it being considered a felony offense, especially given the inherent ambiguities of this particular penal code, California Penal Code 466 possession of burglary tools still carries with it some stuff penalties. If found guilty of said offense, an individual will find themselves facing:
- up to six months in county jail;
- a fine of up to $1,000; AND
- summary probation for up to three years
Since being in possession of burglary-related tools is often coupled with being charged with burglary itself, it is important to know that if an individual finds themselves in this predicament, the California Penal Code 466 charge will be stayed and only the burglary charge itself will be enforced with a sentence against the individual.
Usage Other Than Burglary
The most common defense used when facing a California PC 466 possession of burglary tools charge is to demonstrate that the items in question do not qualify as tools that would be used in the commission of a burglary. If an individual and their criminal defense attorney can successfully demonstrate that the items in question do not qualify as one of the specific items listed in California Penal Code 466 possession of burglary tools, and also that they would not otherwise qualify as the broadly written other tools or instruments, then this element is not satisfied. As such, the individual would not be found guilty of this offense.
Lack of Intent
Similarly then, the second way to defend against this charge is to attack the second element of intent. As noted previously, intent forms the crux of the charge. If a lack of intent can successfully be demonstrated, then this is a powerful defense tool to use. Even if an individual possessed one of the listed tools, and even if one of the tools was something on its face seemingly only to do with gaining entry to a structure without a key (like a lock pick gun), without proving the requisite intent to use the lock pick gun to burgle, there cannot be a conviction. Proving this lack of intent can be an uphill battle though, so it is much easier to do so if only one suspicious item is in possession of the individual and if that individual has a clean criminal record. Lacking either of these will make the job of proving a lack of intent more difficult, though not impossible.
If you or a loved one has been charged with PC 466, Possession of Burglary Tools in the Southern California area, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review. Schedule an appointment to meet with us in person, or feel free to submit an evaluation online and we will get in contact with you ASAP. We can provide a free consultation in our office, or by phone. Our experienced and assiduous Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your charges completely.
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