NY Criminal Defense – Penal Law 140.35: Burglar’s Tools

Your NY criminal defense lawyer successfully challenged the Burglary charge pending against you in Brooklyn or Manhattan Supreme Court, but you still face other charges relating to the offense. One of those charges is Possession of Burglar’s Tools, Penal Law Section 140.35. Although not a felony, the crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

According to Penal Law Section 140.35, a person is guilty of Possession of Burglar’s Tools when “he possesses any tool, instrument or other article adapted, designed or commonly used for committing or facilitating offenses involving forcible entry into premises, or offenses involving larceny by a physical taking, or offenses involving theft of services…under circumstances evincing and intent to use or knowledge that some person intends to to use the same in the commission of an offense of such character.”

Unfortunately, the Penal Law definition is not very helpful in ascertaining what constitutes Burglar’s Tools. A skilled criminal defense attorney, on the other hand, can explain that it is not merely the object that you have, but the statute requires that you also have the intent to use that particular instrument to commit a theft related offense. Mere possession may not be enough.

In the past, courts have found that Burglar’s Tools can run the gamut of objects from tinfoil lined bags used avoid sensors for shoplifting to metal hangers used to break into cars. In fact, toothpicks and other items have been deemed Burglar’s Tools under the circumstances where the intent to use them in that capacity has been established. See People v. Gastiaburo, 23 A.D.2d 891 (2d Dept. 1965).

Whatever object you possess, if you are charged with Possession of Burglar’s Tools you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to force the prosecution to their burden of proof and to challenge whether the object you have is in fact such a tool. As a former prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Jeremy Saland is exactly the type of attorney who can protect your rights and fight for your freedom.

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