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Possession of Burglary Tools
PC 466 Law, Sentence, & Defense

Information on the crime of possession of burglary tools with intent to commit theft is found at California penal code section 466. Essentially, it is a crime to possess a tool that is commonly used to commit theft or burglary while in possession of that tool. This article discusses the law, the punishment, and the common defenses related to PC 466 crimes.


To start, PC 466 requires the district attorney to prove three elements. Each of the following ingredients must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in order to prove PC 466:

  • The defendant had actual or constructive possession of an object

  • The object was a tool commonly used for breaking into buildings, house, vehicle, etc. (i.e. burglary), and

  • When the defendant possessed the burglary tool, he or she intended to commit burglary

Possession Defined: Possession means to own or control something. Possession can be actual or constructive. Actual possession means the defendant has a burglary tool on his person, or within his immediate reach. Constructive possession means the defendant has access and ability to control a burglary tool.


For example: If the defendant has a screwdriver in his pocket then the defendant has actual control of the screwdriver. On the other hand, if the defendant keeps a screwdriver in his truck, and the truck owned or registered to the defendant, the the defendant has constructive possession of the screwdriver.. 

Burglary Tools Defined: According to PC 466, Burglary tools include a picklock, crowbar, screwdriver, vise grip pliers, slidehammer, slim jim, tension bar, bump key, floor safe door puller, master key, or other instrument or tool.

Note: Many items, such as a screw driver, crowbar, or vise grip pliers, can be used in an non-criminal manner despite the fact that PC 466 describes these items as possible burglary tools.  The point is that just about any item can be considered a tool for burglary if that item is commonly used to open doors, boxes, cars, etc. It is the factual circumstances that controls whether the tool is intended for burglary or for a non criminal purpose.

For example: If the defendant, a construction worker, keeps a screwdriver in his work truck and along with many other types of construction tools, the screwdriver would probably not be considered a burglary tool. On the other hand, if an out of work teenager is carrying a screwdriver on his person, at night, and with no other items on his person, there is more likelihood that the screwdriver will be considered a burglary tool.

Intent Defined: Intent means that the defendant did something on purpose, meant to do something, or resolved to do something. For purposes of possession of a burglary tool charges, intent means that the defendant meant to commit burglary (while possessing the burglary tool). Evidence of the defendant's intent can be derived from the defendant's confession, such as in the statement "I was going to use that screwdriver to break into cars," But more likely the element of intent will be ascertained from the circumstances.


Example: If the defendant carries a screwdriver on his person, at night, and has a criminal history for breaking into cars at night with a screwdriver, then the circumstances suggest that the defendant intended (again) to break into cars with a screwdriver.


Jail: Possession of burglary tools is charged as a misdemeanor. If found guilty of PC 466, the defendant could face up to 180 days in jail.

Probation: A probation sentence is a period of supervision as opposed to a jail sentence. A probation sentence in PC 466 cases is called summary probation as there is no probation officer that monitors the defendant's probation progress; rather, the court monitors the defendant's progress. Probation sentences for PC 466 can include a period of work release, house arrest, or community serve that is intended to serve as an alternative to jail and a a condition of probation.


Note: Probation sentences are not guaranteed in PC 466 cases. Whether or not the defendant will be granted a probation sentence after a conviction for possession of burglary tools depends on several factors, including the defendant's ' criminal history and the circumstances of the case.


In addition to the penalties of jail, if found guilty of PC 466, the defendant could face any of the following punishments: Court fees and fines, restitution, criminal protective orders (CPS), denial of entry into the US armed forces, loss of immigration status or loss of a professional license (i.e. doctor, dentist, lawyer, therapist, etc.), and more.




Common defense to a criminal charge of possession of burglary tools include: insufficient evidence to prove the defendant intended to use an item as a burglary tool, mistake of fact, coerced confession, statute of limitations, insanity, and more.  


If you have been arrested or charged with possession of burglary tools, or PC 466, contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Call today!



Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Possession of Burglary Tools

Code: PC 466

Wobbler: No. PC 466 is not a wobbler. PC 466 is only charged as a misdemeanor.​


Incarceration: ​PC 466 jail sentence up to 180 days.

Probation: Probation is allowed in PC 466 cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.​

Strike: PC 466 is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: PC 466 is not a crime involving moral turpitude.


Bail: $5,000 (San Bernardino County)

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