Some criminal acts, such as burglary, may require using some instrument to complete the crime. A person possessing the tools can be charged with a criminal act. An instrument of crime, or tool, is anything object made or adapted specifically for criminal use. The object is sometimes called derivative contraband or burglary tools.

What are Examples of Criminal Tools?

Criminal tools include objects like:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Drill bits
  • Lock picking devices
  • Bolt cutters
  • Hammers
  • Explosives
  • Master keys
  • Crowbars
  • Prying devices 
  • Ceramic spark plugs

What is considered a criminal tool depends on state law and can vary.

What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove to Find Me Guilty of Possession of Criminal Tools?

Some states make possessing criminal tools a crime in specific circumstances. However, a prosecutor must prove three things to prove guilt:

  • The defendant had direct physical control of the criminal tool
  • The defendant had the intent to use the criminal tool during criminal activity such as trespassing or burglary 
  • The criminal tools doesn’t serve a lawful purpose in the specific situation

Is Possession of Criminal Tools a Felony?

No. To possess criminal tools is a misdemeanor. An individual found guilty of possessing criminal tools may receive a punishment ranging from probation to jail time and community service. Whether an individual is charged with having criminal tools may depend on the charge. For example, in some jurisdictions, the intent to commit burglary is required for a person to be charged with possessing criminal tool.

Do I Need an Attorney to Fight a Possession of Criminal Tools Charge?

Yes. If you are charged with possessing criminal tools, talk to a criminal defense attorney.

A conviction of this misdemeanor can have long ranging consequences such as one year in jail or probation. An attorney near you will explain your legal options and how to fight the case.