Have you Been Charged with Possession of Tools for a Commission of a Crime in Georgia?
Georgia law has a plethora of crimes related to theft, burglary, and robbery. However, many people do not know that possession of tools for the commission of a crime is also considered a crime in Georgia and has its particular punishment.
Georgia Law O.C.G.A. §16-7-20
The offense of possession of tools for the commission of a crime when he has in his possession any tool, explosive, or another device commonly used in the commission of burglary, theft, or other crime with the intent to make use thereof in the commission of a crime.
The Office of Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Possession of Tools Attorneys can help you understand your charge and defend against it. If you or someone you know has been accused of this crime, contact us immediately and schedule a free consultation. Don't wait because your future is at stake.
Devices Commonly Used in the Commission of a Crime
While many tools can be used to commit a crime, not all of them are considered commonly used in the commission of a crime, as the statute requires. Therefore, the Court has had to elaborate on which tools are considered “commonly used.” One item the Court has found is not commonly used is body armor. The State did not present evidence that body armor is a tool commonly used to commit armed robbery, and therefore, the accused was found not guilty. Nyane v. State, 306 Ga. App. 591, (2012).
In another case, the Court found that electronic scales and baggies found in a suspect's apartment were tools commonly used in the commission of possession of marijuana, and therefore, he was guilty of the crime. Russell v. State, 243 Ga. App. 378, (2000). Courts have also found cell phones as instruments that can be used to commit a crime. Bryant v. State, 320 Ga. App. 838, (2013). In Bryson, a suspect was found guilty of possession of cell phones to commit a crime based on discovering cell phones that were consistent with someone involved with drug distribution. Lastly, a suspect was found with common household tools (hammer, pliers, and screwdrivers) that the State argued were useable for burglary. However, the Court held that the tools were not commonly used for the crime of theft. Burnette v. State, 168 Ga. App. 578, (1983).
Based upon recent case law, the Court has no set definition for what tools “commonly used in the commission of a crime” mean but they determine it on a case by case basis. It is essential that you have a knowledgeable Georgia Possession of Tools Attorney that can help you argue the instrument was not commonly used.
After numerous burglaries of homes that were under construction, a police officer approached two suspects leaving one of the unoccupied homes heading towards a vehicle. The officer noticed the vehicle had a dealer plate installed with the actual license plates inside the car along with tools that the officer testified were commonly used with burglary. Included among the tools were screwdrivers, pruning shears, a flashlight, and a cordless drill. The suspects argued that there was insufficient evidence to support that the devices were possessed to commit a crime. The Court disagreed and found that they were tools commonly used to commit burglary and therefore, the suspects were found guilty. Anderson v. State, 264 Ga. App. 362, (2003).
What Needs to be Proven for a Conviction
To be guilty of possession of tools for the commission of a crime, the State must demonstrate that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, possession of tools requires there to be intent, and intent is a matter to be resolved by a jury.
There are two elements to the crime of possession of tools. First, there must be actual possession of the tools and implements. An example could be a crowbar if a person intended to commit the crime of burglary or robbery. Second, there must be intent to use the instruments to commit a crime. Possessing tools that could be used in committing a burglary or another crime is not in itself a crime but once there is some intent, then the threshold has been crossed, and the crime of possession of tools has been committed. Therefore, both of these elements have to be proven to be found guilty of possession of tools for the commission of a crime.
Penalty for Possession of Tools For Commission of a Crime
The penalty for being convicted of possession of tools is a prison term of one to five years. It is a felony conviction.
Some states, including Georgia, have been employing alternative methods to try to reform offenders instead of punishing them in hopes of reducing crime. Some of these alternative sentencing options can include partial sentencing such as a work release program or a weekend sentencing program. Another option may be house arrest.
There is also a possibility that you could receive probation for your case. A judge could decide to give you a probation sentence instead of a prison sentence or could add probation to your prison term. If you are sentenced to probation, you must comply with all of the conditions of your probation or you risk having to serve the original jail or prison sentence. Some things that might be a part of your probation are submitting to drug tests, reporting to a probation officer, or submitting to home searches.
Having a Georgia Possession of Tools Attorney could help you get your sentence reduced to a less severe one. Your Lawyer will argue every possible defense available to you in efforts to get prison term reduced. It is crucial to your case to hire someone knowledgeable in the burglary field such as one of our Georgia Possession of Tools Attorneys.
Defenses in Georgia
The tools were not commonly used in the commission of a crime: Even if the tools could be used to commit burglary, if they do not fall into the category of commonly used, then you have a strong defense. In the case of Burnette v. State, the Court found that a hammer, pair of pliers, screwdriver, hatchet, and chisel were not commonly used in the commission of a burglary. The Court noted that although they could be used for burglary; they did not fall into the commonly used category; therefore, the accused was not guilty. 168 Ga. App. 578, (1983).
The tools were not in your immediate possession: When the tools are not in your physical possession when arrested, the State may be unable to prove intent to use the tool sin the commission of a crime. An example of this is if the tools were in a different location.
Innocence: The most basic defense is actual innocence. An innocence argument involves your Georgia Possession of Tools Attorney convincing the court that you did not commit the act or acts in question. The prosecution bears the burden of proving you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, so to defeat the charge your lawyer must create plausible doubt in the minds of the jury as to whether the prosecutions' evidence demonstrates that you committed the crime. Your Attorney can create uncertainty by presenting an alibi or creating doubt as to the scientific reliability of a forensic technique used to obtain the charge.
Lack of Intent: Your Lawyer could use intent as one of the possible defenses for your case. Because intent to commit a crime is an element of possession of tools, without having that intent, you cannot be found guilty. You could be convicted of another crime but not of the crime of possession of tools.
What are not Defenses
I did not have the tools in my possession; someone else did: When one or more people enter into a conspiracy to commit theft, and one of them has in their possession the tools needed to complete the crime, the possession extends to all of them. Each of them would be guilty of the crime of possession of tools. Kryder v. State, 57 Ga. App. 200, (1938).
I did not commit a crime: A suspect does not have to complete the crime to be guilty of possession of tools. Having the tools with the intent to commit a crime will be enough to be convicted if the State produces sufficient evidence.
Voluntary Intoxication: Possession of tools is a specific intent crime, which means that a person must have the intent to commit the offense. In some states, voluntary intoxication could act as a defense to the degree that it prevented you from forming the required intent. However, Georgia does not accept this argument.
Contact our offices today to schedule a free consultation with one of our Georgia Possession of Tools Attorneys. Formulating a defense on your own can be overwhelming and seemingly impossible. Our Attorneys are highly knowledgeable and will assist you in formulating the best possible defense for your case. We will walk you through every step of the process, and we are dedicated to being accessible to you- days, nights, weekends, and holidays while working hard on your behalf. Your Attorney will make sure you understand all of your options and advise you on the best approach to take for your case based on their many years of experience. Don’t wait to contact one of our experienced Lawyers. Your future is at stake so don't sit around waiting for your case to resolve itself.