Possession of Burglarious Tools

Possession of burglarious tools is a crime under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 49. To convict a defendant of this crime, a prosecutor has to prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant knowingly possessed a tool, machine, engine or implement.

  2. The tool or implement was designed or could be used to break into a building, safe, vault, room or other place where valuables are stored or kept. To satisfy this element, it is not necessary to prove that the tools were originally made for a burglarious use, and the tools need not be inherently burglarious. For example, a kitchen knives, wire cutters or screwdrivers could be considered burglarious tools if the circumstances could create the inference that they were used to break and enter. Other common examples of "burglarious tools" include battering rams, crow bars, and chisels. The trunk of a car or a locked car can qualify as places where valuables are kept.

  3. The defendant knew that the tool or implement was designed for that purpose.

  4. The defendant intended to use or employ the tool for that purpose.

  5. The defendant had the specific intention of stealing something from or committing a crime in the particular place. The crime intended does not have to be burglary or theft. For example, proof that the defendant had the intent to commit trespass in the particular place would satisfy this element.

Relative to proving the element of “possession” the Commonwealth can prove that the defendant had “actual” possession or “constructive possession.” Thus, the “tool” does not necessarily have to be on the defendant’s person—it can be in a bag or toolbox or even in a nearby car. In order to prove that the defendant was in constructive possession of the item it must prove that the defendant had the intent and ability to exercise control over the object.

The prosecutor is not required to prove that the defendant attempted a break-in, and breaking and entering is a separate and distinct offense from possession of burglarious tools.

What Type Of Punishment Can Be Imposed For Possession of Burglarious Tools?

Possession of burglarious tools is punishable by up to 10 years in the state prison or up to 2.5 years in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Potential Defenses To Possession Of Burglarious Tools Charges

There are many ways in which a skilled lawyer can fight a charge of possession of burglarious tools. For instance, particularly where the tool or implement has an innocent purpose, it can be quite challenging for the Commonwealth to prove the intent and knowledge elements listed above. Another potential defense is that the defendant was not in possession of the item alleged to be a “burglarious tool.”

In What Types Of Circumstances Is Possession of Burglarious Tools Charged?

This offense is often charged when someone is arrested while in the process of what the authorities perceive is a breaking and entering into a vehicle or house. If the individual is “caught” with a screwdriver or anything that could be manipulated to assist in the breaking in of the car or building the defendant will likely have this charge lodged against him or her.

Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney Kathleen M. McCarthy

Kathleen M. McCarthy is a top criminal defense attorney who practices in all Massachusetts courts. Attorney McCarthy has many years of experience defending clients accused of serious felonies and misdemeanors. She is undeniably one of the most qualified and intelligent criminal defense lawyers that you will be able to find in our Commonwealth. Attorney McCarthy also offers excellent client service and support, ensuring that they are well-informed at all times. If you have been charged with possession of burglarious tools or any crime in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Kathleen M. McCarthy at 978-975-8060 or click here to send an e-mail today. She will resolutely protect your rights and your prospects. Attorney McCarthy's office accepts calls 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.