Find the right lawyer now

Possessing an Instrument of Crime

Find a Local Criminal Lawyer near You

What is an Instrument of Crime?

An instrument of crime is anything specially made or specially adapted for criminal use, or an object that is commonly used for criminal purposes.  Instruments of crime are sometimes referred to as "derivative contraband."  Examples of an instrument of crime include:

When Can Someone be Guilty of Possessing an Instrument of Crime?

Many states make it a crime to possess an instrument of crime in certain circumstances.  Generally, in order to be guilty and later punished for the crime of possessing an instrument of crime, a person must:

  1. Have direct physical control over the instrument of crime,
  2. Have the intent to use the instrument of crime in a criminal activity, and
  3. The instrument of crime cannot serve a lawful purpose under the circumstances.

What Punishment Can I Face for Possessing an Instrument of Crime?

Possessing an instrument of crime is generally a misdemeanor offense.  As such, a person found guilty can face criminal punishment that can include:

  • Jail time, ranging from 3 days to 5 years,
  • Fines, ranging from $500 to $10,000,
  • Community service,
  • Forfeiture of the property,
  • Parole or probation, or
  • Loss of driver's license.

These punishments do not generally take into account a person's previous criminal history.  Because possessing an instrument of crime is generally associated with a repeat criminal offender, their punishment can be greater because of a violation of their parole or probation agreement.

Do I Need an Attorney if I am Charged with Possessing an Instrument of Crime?

If you are charged with possessing an instrument of crime, it is highly recommended that you contact a criminal defense attorney.  Only an attorney will be able to explain the relevant issues and help in your defense.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 11-13-2012 03:03 PM PST

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.