Under Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-4-205, you can be charged with possession of burglary tools if you are caught with tools commonly used to break into a business, home or vehicle, and you intended to use the tools for that purpose.
Knowingly possessing burglary tools to forcibly enter a dwelling in order to steal is a class 5 felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.00. Otherwise, possession of burglary tools is a class 2 misdemeanor carrying up to 120 days in jail and/or up to $750 in fines.
The language of Section 18-4-205 states that
(1) A person commits possession of burglary tools if he possesses any explosive, tool, instrument, or other article adapted, designed, or commonly used for committing or facilitating the commission of an offense involving forcible entry into premises or theft by a physical taking, and intends to use the thing possessed, or knows that some person intends to use the thing possessed, in the commission of such an offense.
(2) Possession of burglary tools is a class 5 felony.1
Below, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about the crime of possession of burglary tools:
- 1. What is possession of burglary tools in Colorado?
- 2. What are some examples of burglary tools?
- 3. Is possessing the “criminal” tool by itself enough to be convicted?
- 4. What are the penalties for possessing burglary tools?
- 5. What defenses can I raise?
- 6. Related Offenses
1. What is possession of burglary tools in Colorado?
In order to prove that you committed the offense of possession of burglary tools, a Colorado prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:
- you possessed
- any item used for breaking and entering or physical taking
- with the intent to use the item for that purpose (or with the knowledge that someone else intends to use the item for that purpose).2
If the prosecutor fails to prove any of the essential elements of the charge, you are not guilty.
2. What are some examples of burglary tools?
Nearly any item can be labeled a “criminal” tool under certain circumstances, but some more common items that lead to the offense include:
- glass breaking tools
- magnets (certain kinds used to strip security tags for shoplifting)
- “spare” key-making kits.
3. Is possessing the “criminal” tool by itself enough to be convicted?
No. Just because you are in possession of a tool commonly used to commit a theft offense does not mean that you are guilty of the crime.
The prosecutor must prove not only that you possessed the tool, but also:
- that you intended to use the thing possessed to commit an offense, or
- had knowledge that another person intended to use the thing possessed to commit an offense. 3
4. What are the penalties for possessing burglary tools?
Possession of burglary tools is a class 5 felony in Colorado if the burglary tools were knowingly possessed to facilitate a forcible entry into a residence for the purpose of a physical taking. Class 5 felonies can be punished by:
- one to three years in prison;
- two years mandatory parole; and/or
- a fine of a minimum of $1,000 and up to a maximum of $100,000.
Otherwise, possession of burglary tools is a class 2 misdemeanor carrying up to 120 days in jail and/or up to $750 in fines.4
5. What defenses can I raise?
To defend against a charge of possessing burglary tools, you can show:
- that the tools were not used to commit a crime;
- the “tool” is not the type commonly used to commit a theft offense; and
- no intent to commit a theft existed.
Lack of criminal intent is the primary defense used to fight this charge. Simple possession is not enough. The Colorado prosecutor must prove that you intended to use the tools to commit an offense.
6. Related Offenses
Possession of burglary tools is an offense that is often related to other criminal charges, like criminal trespass, theft, burglary, and breaking and entering.
6.1 Criminal Trespass 18-4-502 C.R.S., 18-4-503 C.R.S., 18-4-504 C.R.S.
Criminal trespass is a Colorado offense that occurs when you unlawfully enter or remain on someone else’s property. Penalties for criminal trespass in Colorado range from probation to incarceration in a prison for up to six (6) years and a fine up to $500,000.
In Colorado, penalties are determined by the degree of the charge. Trespass can be in the first (18-4-502 C.R.S.)5, second (18-4-503 C.R.S.)6, or third-degree (18-4-504 C.R.S.)7, depending on the seriousness of the offense, which is determined by:
- the type of property involved; and
- your reason for entering and/or remaining on the property.
6.2 Theft (18-4-401 C.R.S)
Theft in Colorado is defined under section 18-4-401 C.R.S. You commit theft when you take — without the consent of the owner — anything of value not belonging to you. Depending on the value of the thing stolen, theft can be charged as:
If convicted on any of these charges, the penalties will be consistent with the type of theft you were convicted of.
6.3 Burglary (18-4-201 C.R.S.)
Burglary — as defined by 18-4-201 C.R.S. — is committed when you wrongfully enter or stay on someone else’s property and intend to commit a crime — any crime other than trespass.9 Burglary in Colorado can be in the:
- third-degree (18-4-204 C.R.S.), whereby you break into a vault, safe, or other locked container with the intent to commit a crime like theft10;
- second-degree (18-4-203), whereby you knowingly break into or remain unlawfully in a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime like theft11; or
- first-degree (18-4-202 C.R.S.), whereby you commit second-degree burglary but also assault (or your accomplice assaults) another person inside the structure.12
6.4 Robbery (18-4-301 C.R.S)
Robbery is theft accomplished by the use of force, threats, or intimidation.13 In Colorado, it materializes as either:
- simple robbery, which is a Colorado class 4 felony and can result in prison for up to 6 years; or
- aggravated robbery, which is a Colorado class 3 felony and can result in prison for up to 32 years, depending on the circumstances and use of a deadly weapon.
For questions about possession of burglary tool charges or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled Colorado criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us.
We create attorney-client relationships in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, Adams County, Jefferson County, Arapahoe County, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, and several nearby cities.
In California? See our article on burglary tool possession (Penal Code 466 PC).
In Nevada? See our article on burglary tool possession (NRS 205.080).
Disclaimer: Past results do not guarantee future results.
- C.R.S. § 18-4-205. Possession of Burglary Tools.
- People v. Ridgeway, 307 P.3d 126 (2013) (stating the jury instructions required for possession of burglary tools).
- People v. Chastain, 733 P.2d 1206 (1987) (proof of requisite mens rea required for offense).
- C.R.S. § 18-1.3-401. Felonies classified–presumptive penalties. Note that prior to March 1, 2022, possession of burglary tools was always a class 5 felony. SB21-271.
- C.R.S. § 18-4-502. First-degree criminal trespass.
- C.R.S. § 18-4-503. Second-degree criminal trespass.
- C.R.S. § 18-4-504. Third-degree criminal trespass.
- C.R.S. § 18-4-401. Theft.
- C.R.S. § 18-4-201. Burglary.
- C.R.S. § 18-4-204. Third-degree burglary.
- C.R.S. § 18-4-203. Second-degree burglary.
- C.R.S. § 18-4-202. First-degree burglary.
- C.R.S. § 18-4-301. Robbery.