In Georgia, possession of criminal tools is defined under section 16-7-20 of the Georgia Code.
According to this law:
- A person commits the offense of possession of tools for the commission of a crime when they have in their possession any tool, explosive, or other device commonly used in the commission of burglary, theft, or other crime with the intent to make use thereof in the commission of a crime.
- A person convicted of the offense of possession of tools for the commission of a crime shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.
What Are Burglary Tools?
Burglary tools, sometimes referred to as burglary instruments, are devices or objects that are used or intended to be used in the commission of crimes such as burglary, breaking and entering, or other types of theft. The tools used can vary widely and are often seemingly innocuous when used for their intended legal purposes. However, in the wrong hands, these tools can be used to illegally gain access to property.
In terms of how these tools are used, this can vary greatly. For instance, a crowbar could be used to break into a building, while a lock pick could be used to discretely open a lock without causing visible damage. The intent of using these tools in a burglary context is to gain unlawful entry into a building, vehicle, or other structure.
Remember, the use of these tools for illegal activities is a criminal act and can result in serious legal consequences. The information provided here is for general knowledge and should not be used to aid in illegal activities.
What Are Examples of Burglary Tools?
Commonly recognized burglary tools may include, but are not limited to:
- Crowbars or pry bars: Used to force open doors or windows.
- Lock picks: Tools designed to manipulate the components of a lock in order to open it without the original key.
- Slim Jims or big easy lockout tools: Thin tools designed to open car doors by manipulating the linkages in the door.
- Bump keys: These are keys made to fit and open pin tumbler locks. They are used by inserting into the lock and then “bumped” by a screwdriver or similar tool. The force of the bump can cause the pins in the lock to jump, allowing the lock to be turned and opened.
- Screwdrivers: Can be used to pry open windows or doors or to tamper with locks.
- Master keys or skeleton keys: These keys are designed to open multiple locks.
- Bolt cutters: Used to cut chains, padlocks, or other types of locks.
- Drills: Can be used to destroy a lock or other types of security devices.
- Glass cutters: Used to cut glass silently and gain entry through a window.
- Flashlights: While not a tool that helps to gain access, flashlights are commonly used during burglaries, and their possession, along with other burglary tools, may be used as evidence of intent.
- Hammer: Used for breaking windows or striking other tools.
- Duct tape or Masking tape: Can be used to silence alarms, muffle the sound of broken glass, or restrain a person.
- Gloves: While not used to gain access, they’re used to prevent leaving fingerprints, showing an intent to conceal identity.
- Rope or Cord: Used for climbing, restraining, or removing heavy objects.
- Wire cutters: Used to cut through fences or disable security systems.
- Chisels or other edged tools: Used to cut, scrape, or pry open locks or barriers.
- Torches (including butane or oxy-acetylene): Can be used to cut through metal barriers or locks.
- Sledgehammers: Used to break through doors, walls, or safes.
- Key duplicating tools: Used to create copies of keys for illegal access later.
- RFID cloners and signal jammers: High-tech tools used to manipulate electronic locks or security systems.
- Plastic credit card or similar: Often used to defeat simple latches on doors.
- Electronic lock pick guns: These tools apply sudden energy to the bottom pins in a lock, causing them to bounce, allowing the lock to be turned.
This list of burglary tools is not limited to the ones listed above, as the nature of the tools used can be specific to the type of burglary or theft being committed.
What Is the Criminal Punishment for Possessing Criminal Tools in Georgia?
The Georgia Code specifies that the punishment for possession of tools for the commission of a crime is imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years. This range of potential imprisonment time indicates that the offense is considered a felony in Georgia, as misdemeanors are typically punishable by up to a year in jail.
The specific length of imprisonment would likely be determined based on the circumstances of the case, including the defendant’s criminal history and the nature of the tools in question.
Scenario 1 – Person Charged
Let’s consider a situation where a person is pulled over for a traffic violation. During the routine traffic stop, the officer sees in plain sight a bag on the passenger seat containing a crowbar, lock picks, a glass cutter, and a flashlight. Given the late hour of the night and the combination of tools, the officer has reasonable suspicion that these tools could be intended for criminal use, such as burglary.
The driver could not provide a reasonable explanation for carrying these tools. In this case, the person might be charged with possession of burglary tools or similar offenses depending on local laws and regulations.
Scenario 2 – Person Not Charged
On the other hand, consider a person who is a professional locksmith. During a traffic stop, the officer finds the same set of tools in their car: a crowbar, lock picks, a glass cutter, and a flashlight. However, this person can provide evidence, like a locksmith’s license and a work order showing they are on their way to a job, which corroborates the lawful need for these tools. In this situation, it is very unlikely they would be charged with possession of burglary tools since they have a legitimate reason to possess them.
Should I Hire a Lawyer to Defend Me in My Possession of Criminal Tools Case?
Absolutely, it is highly recommended that you hire a Georgia criminal lawyer if you are facing charges for possession of criminal tools. Such charges can lead to serious consequences, including fines, probation, and even imprisonment.
Having a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer on your side is crucial when navigating the complex legal system, ensuring your rights are protected, and helping you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
For Georgia residents, a great way to find a lawyer is through LegalMatch. LegalMatch is a platform that can help you find the right lawyer for your specific case. They have a comprehensive directory of criminal defense attorneys who are knowledgeable about Georgia laws, and you can review each attorney’s qualifications and rates before making your choice.
When facing a criminal charge, remember that you have rights, one of which is the right to legal counsel. Don’t try to face these charges alone. Use a service like LegalMatch to find a Georgia criminal lawyer who can provide the defense you need.
Here’s your call to action: Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start your search for a qualified Georgia criminal defense attorney through LegalMatch today. Your future may depend on it.