While Florida criminal law penalizes individuals who perpetrate felony burglary and trespass criminal offenses with fines and jail time, the State of Florida also criminalizes possessing tools that are used to perpetuate a criminal trespass or burglary.
In the Florida Supreme Court case, Calliar v. State, the Florida Supreme Court heard a case dealing with the legal issues surrounding "possession of burglary tools." The case was important enough that the Florida Supreme Court rendered an opinion regarding burglary tools. The defendant, Calliar, was placed under arrest, charged, and then was convicted of unlawfully entering a fenced-in section of a middle school by way of an open gate and possession of burglary tools. While inside the fenced-off area, the defendant tried to break off a bike security chain using a screwdriver and a pair of wire cutters. The defendant was convicted of possessing a screwdriver and a pair of wire cutters because these tools were reported "burglary tools." However, the Florida Supreme Court did overturn the defendant's conviction because the judges ruled that the offense of possessing burglary tools requires evidence that the tools in question were intended to be used or were used to illegally access the premises.
According to Florida Criminal Statute 810.06, if an individual is found in possession of any tool, machine, or implement with the intention of using these tools to commit trespass or a burglary, or even permit the tool, implement, or the machine to be used in the commission of trespass or burglary, the suspect can be charged with a third-degree felony. For instance, if you were found in possession of a hacksaw and had the intention to use the hacksaw to cut through a chain that is securing another person's property to steal that property, you can be charged with the crime of possessing burglary tools. However, if you are helping the property owner who cannot remove the chain from his or her property and are using a hacksaw to help the property owner, you did not commit a crime.
The following are tools that may be viewed as burglary tools should the defendant be found in possession of them with the intention of committing a trespass or burglary:
- Bolt cutters
- Lock picks
- Wire Cutters
In cases where you or a loved one are found to be possessing any type of implement, tool, or machine and you or a loved one are charged with possessing burglary tool, the State of Florida must prove that you or your loved had the intention to use that instrument, or you or your loved one allowed someone else to use one of your tools to commit a crime of trespass or burglary. If the act of criminal trespass or burglary was never committed, it would be more difficult o prove that you or a loved one possessed the instrument with the intention of committing the trespass or burglary. However, suppose the prosecution's evidence against you or your loved one shows that you or your loved one were observed outside of a store with a blowtorch trying to cut off a lock, and you or your loved one do not have permission to do so. In that case, a juror could reasonably surmise that you are in possession of the blowtorch to commit a burglary.
What are the punishments if found guilty of possession of a burglary tool in the State of Florida?
In the State of Florida, it is a third-degree felony to possess burglary tools. Third-degree felonies, in the State of Florida, are punished with a fine of no more than $5,000. Also, a third-degree felony in the State of Florida is punishable with up to five years in prison. However, if you or a loved one are arrested and charged with criminal trespass or burglary, the chances are that you or your loved one will be charged with possession of a burglary tool and possibly other criminal charges. If these also other criminal charges filed against you or your loved one and depending on the facts of you or your loved one's case, you or your loved one could receive additional and more rigid punishments.
Criminal trespass or burglary conviction will have long-lasting effects on you or your loved one's daily life, including a jail sentence and expensive fines. It seems unfair that a simple tool that you might ordinarily keep in a toolbox could sentence you to more prison time if convicted on a possession of a burglary tool offense. It is essential that you or your loved one does not take these criminal offenses lightly. The crime of possession of a burglary tool offense is a felony. If you or your loved one is convicted of a felony, the felony conviction will likely affect your ability to obtain or keep a good job after the prison time, and fine is paid off. Also, you or your loved one may not be able to attend a university or be able to possess a firearm or vote.
If you or a loved one have been charged with any crime, you must speak to an experienced attorney at Musca Law to understand your legal rights and weigh your legal options. The criminal defense attorney at Musca Law will review the facts of your case. When you retain a Musca Law attorney, our legal team will determine the best defense strategy to fight your criminal charges. To receive your free consultation with Musca Law, simply call our law firm 24/7 at 888.484.5057.