Penal Code § 466: Burglary Tools Defense

July 1, 2015

Because Burglary is a serious offense, prosecutors and law enforcement treat possession of burglary devices seriously in an effort to avoid any future crime. However, prosecuting someone under this offense is more challenging than one would think. In fact, most people arrested for this offense possess these tools for work related purposes rather than commit a criminal offense which often times serves as a viable defense. When someone is detained pending an investigation for possessing burglary tools, police officers often engage in questioning a suspect in an effort to elicit incriminating responses to build a case against them. If one were to remain silent and request the presence of a lawyer then police officers will unlikely be able to prove one harbored the intent to commit a crime by merely possessing the tools. Instead, the crime requires the tools to be possessed for an illegal purpose. Thus, if law enforcement seeks to question you, you should not make a statement and contact a lawyer immediately.

Early Attorney Intervention

In some cases, early intervention by a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer may mean the difference of a slap on the wrist or having to serve time in county jail. When someone is arrested in a criminal case, the police officers write up a report and forwards it to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office or Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for formal review to determine whether criminal charges should be filed. The prosecutor will read the evidence narrowly only considering what the police officer has to say and his or her opinions regarding the incident. However, upon retaining the Law Offices of John D. Rogers, Mr. Rogers will immediately get started on your case and catch and speak with the prosecutor prior to any criminal charges are filed. Mr. Rogers will submit character letters, additional evidence, mitigating evidence, and/or additional witness statements on your behalf in an effort to explain and/or show your side of the story. That way the prosecutor can consider all of the evidence versus only the police officers side of the story. In some instances, this method may persuade a prosecutor to file reduced charges or perhaps reject the case completely and avoid ever having any charges brought against you. If you have been arrested, contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers immediately.

Burglary Tools Defined by Statute

In California, Penal Code § 466 provides that any person who has specified tools or instrument in their possession with the intent to feloniously break or enter into any structure, or who knowingly makes or alters a key or other instrument without request by the person who has the right to open the same is guilty of this offense.

Under this code section, specific tools or instrument may be, but not limited to the following:

• Picklock
• Crow
• Keybit
• Crowbar
• Screwdriver
• Vise grip pliers
• Water-pump pliers
• Slidehammer
• Slim jim
• Tension bar
• Lock pick gun
• Tubular lock pick
• Bump key
• Floor-safe door puller
• Master key
• Ceramic or porcelain spark plug chips or pieces

The term structure outlined in P.C. § 466 is listed from P.C. § 459, burglary, as any of, but not limited to, the following:

• Any building
• Railroad car
• Aircraft
• Vessel
• Trailer coach
• Vehicle
• Tent
• Floating home
• Cargo container
• Inhabited camper
• Apartment
• Mill
• Barn
• Stable
• Outhouse

Legal Defenses

• You possessed the tools for work related purposes or for a project

• You did not have the intent to use the instruments to break or enter

• The legal owner consented for you to use the instrument at their premises

• You did not reasonably know you were in possession of burglary instruments

• The police are fabricating or exaggerating the circumstances against you

• The police violated your Fourth Amendment unreasonable search right


Possession of burglary tools is a misdemeanor offense punishable up to one year in the county jail if convicted. Usually the court will impose three years’ worth of probation, fines, as well as rehabilitative classes. Other consequences, among others, may include potentially immigration issues, temporary loss of your Fourth Amendment unreasonable search and seizure rights. Not to mention, the court will likely impose a stay-away order barring you from a certain distance of the location in which the prosecutor is alleging you attempted to commit a theft or burglary by virtue of the tools.


Possession of burglary tools is an eligible conviction for expungement. Pursuant to P.C. § 1203.4, the court will reopen the case, and subsequently dismiss the conviction. From that point forward, you will be judicially declared statutorily rehabilitated and California will no longer recognize you to have a criminal conviction “releasing you from all penalties and liabilities” stemming from the conviction. However, the court does require certain conditions to be fulfilled prior to order your record expunged. For more information, contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers to discuss your eligibility.


Dan was walking in a Los Angeles neighborhood after lunch one afternoon. A police noticed Dan walking with a hammer and a crowbar. The police officer detained Dan and began questioning him on what he was doing. Dan replied that his friend was out of town and he was paid to rebuild a tool shed in his friend’s backyard while he was away. The police officer confirmed that Dan’s friend was in fact out of town but was unable to speak with him personally to confirm that Dan had consent to enter his home with these tools. Because the foregoing, the police officer decided to arrest Dan for possession of burglary tools. In this case, Dan’s defense attorney would argue that Dan did not possession the tools for an illegal purpose since he was given consent by his friend to rebuild a tool shed. Therefore, Dan would not be guilty of possession of burglary tools.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you have been arrested or charged with possession of burglary tools, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney John Rogers at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers. Call (949) 625-4487 for a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses.

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