Being charged with possession of burglary tools in Oklahoma can mean prison time in some circumstances if you are convicted. The penalties involved hinge upon the tools you have in your possession as well as your prior criminal history. Both of these can be an issue with which your Claremore lawyer can help you. Here are some things you may want to know.
Possession of Burglary Tools in Oklahoma Defined
In Oklahoma, possession of burglary tools is legally defined as:
- having burglary tools in your possession such as a pick-lock, key, bit, jack, jimmy, nippers, pick, betty, or any other burglary tool
- with the intent to break into and enter a building or other structure such as a booth, tent, or vessel
- to commit a felony inside.
Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1437
Possession of any of these tools with the intent to break and enter to commit a felony inside are the hallmarks of this crime. The crime is treated as a misdemeanor in Claremore. It is punishable by up to a year in jail.
Elements of the Crime
The prosecution must prove possession, intent to break and enter, and intent to commit a felony inside. Because these cases are fact-bound, even the smallest fact may be important when building a defense.
Breaking and entering is a term of art really. Thus, it is open to a wide number of scenarios that might all be considered to be illegal. Breaking and entering is legally defined as:
- forcibly breaking a wall, door, window, or lock; or
- by breaking in in any other manner, or
- by picking a lock,
- using a false key,
- by lifting a latch, or
- opening a window.
Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1431
The definition is broad to encompass a wide variety of illegal types of entry. It can include smashing a window, using a key, opening a window, prying open a door, and the like.
It is important to understand that while the prosecution has the burden to prove the intent to break and enter, the prosecution does not have to show that the breaking and entering actually happened. In addition, the prosecution can use the circumstances of your case to prove the intent to break and enter.
For example, time day, proximity, and other items in your possession may all be relevant to whether you had the intent to break and enter, and whether you intended to commit a felony inside.
Getting caught with the burglary tools at night right by the building or while in the middle of picking a lock may be used to prove intent. If you are caught with tools in the middle of the day far from any building, it is less likely that the prosecution will be able to prove intent.
Finally, the prosecution must prove that you had the intent to commit a felony inside. Although we typically think of theft as the felony in this crime, it can be any felony. The felony could be one of theft, violence, sexual assault, or rape.
Circumstantial evidence may be used for this purpose as well. Thus, if you were also carrying a gun, it could be inferred from the circumstances that you intended to cause someone physical harm. If you were carrying duct tape or ligatures, it could be inferred that you had the intent to commit a sexual assault.
Defenses are Also Fact-Bound
These cases turn on their facts. Any facts that disprove intent or that show that your intent was different than that required for the crime are important. These facts may seem trivial and only an experienced Claremore criminal defense attorney can really help you understand which facts in your case are particularly important to your defense.
Previous Burglary Convictions Can Add to the Problem
If you have a prior burglary conviction, getting caught with any of the following tools could mean a felony conviction: sledgehammer, pry bar, punches, chisel, or bolt cutters. And that could mean mandatory jail time.
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