What is Possession of Burglary Tools in Arizona?

A.R.S. § 13-1505 makes it a crime in Arizona to possess “burglary tools.” Burglary tools are usually everyday items, such as hammers or screwdrivers, that given the context of the surrounding circumstances leads the police to believe that the defendant intends to use them to commit a burglary. Although it is not required by law, you will often see possession of burglary tools charged alongside a burglary charge. Possession of burglary tools is a class 6 felony.

A.R.S. § 13-1505 Defined

Under Arizona’s theft laws, a person commits possession of burglary tools by:

  • Possessing any explosive, tool, instrument or other article adapted or commonly used for committing any form of burglary and intending to use or permit the use of such an item in the commission of a burglary.
  • Buying, selling, transferring, possessing or using a motor vehicle manipulation key or master key.

Possession of burglary tools is a class 6 felony.

Important Definitions

ARS 13-1505 contains some specific legal terms that are defined in ARS 13-1501.

  • “Manipulation key” means a key, device or instrument, other than a key that is designed to operate a specific lock, that can be variably positioned and manipulated in a vehicle keyway to operate a lock or cylinder, including a wiggle key, jiggle key or rocker key.
  • “Master key” means a key that operates all the keyed locks or cylinders in a similar type or group of locks.

Penalties for Possession of Burglary Tools

Possession of burglary tools is a class 6 felony. The potential punishments for this category of crime depend on how many prior felony convictions a defendant has:

  • No priors: Probation eligible, or .33 to 2 years in prison
  • One felony prior: .75 to 2.75 years in prison
  • Two or more felony priors: 2.25 to 5.75 years in prison

Defenses to Possession of Burglary Tools

  • No “Intent”: Possession of burglary tools requires that the State prove a defendant possessed the tools “intending to use or permit the use of such an item in the commission of a burglary.” Because a variety of otherwise legal tools can be used in the commission of a burglary (screw drivers, hammers, ice picks, wire cutters, ski masks, etc…), the most common defense for this crime rests on attacking the notion that the tool was used with the intent to commit burglary. This will best be shown if the context of the situation provides for an alternative explanation for the possession of the tools.

Example: A person is charged with possession of burglary tools when the police arrest him under suspicious circumstances at night. The defendant has a screwdriver and hammer in his vehicle. The defendant may be able to present evidence that he is had those items for a valid reason–he could be a tradesman, or the items could be kept for home repair or vehicle repair purposes. Unless the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the items were intended to commit a burglary, the mere possession of those items should not lead to a conviction.

How Salwin Law Can Help You

If you’ve been charged with possession of burglary tools, a skilled criminal defense attorney at the Salwin Law Group can help you with your case today. Stewart Salwin provides free consultations on criminal charges. Call today to see how we can help you get the best possible defense to your charges.

Call Salwin Law Group PLLC today at (480) 470-6119, or contact us online to make your appointment.