NRS 205.080 is the Nevada law that prohibits possessing burglary tools. The statute states that people who have any tool commonly used for:
It does not matter if the defendant has not used the tools to commit a crime. NRS 205.080 punishes people who clearly mean to break the law but get caught before they can.
Below our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about NRS 205.080 violations in Nevada.
1. What are burglary tools?
A burglary tool can be any of the following that is “adapted, designed or commonly used” to commit a crime:
- false key,
- nippers, or
Courts presume people who have such tools intend to use them to commit a crime. So if the case goes to trial, the defendant has the burden to prove he/she lacked criminal intent.
The only exceptions are mechanics, artificers, or tradesmen. But they must possess the tools open to public view at their established shop or place of business.1
2. What are the defenses?
The facts of a case dictate which defenses could be effective in fighting the allegations. Three common defenses in NRS 205.080 cases are:
- No burglary tools. Maybe the police wrongly presumed that the items in question were burglary tools. Maybe they served an artistic or constructive purpose. Unless the D.A. can show the tools are typically used to steal or break in, the charges should be dismissed.
- Police misconduct. Having burglary tools may be illegal. But a police search done without probable cause is unconstitutional. If police found the tools from an illegal search, the defense attorney may ask the court to disregard (“suppress“) the tools as evidence. If the judge complies, then the prosecution’s case may be left too weak to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
- No intent to commit a crime. Perhaps the defendant had an innocent purpose. Maybe the tools were a gift or part of a larger tool kit. If the defense attorney can show that the defendant had no criminal intent, the case should be dropped. In Nevada, these cases typically arise in the context of probation violations:
Example: Brandt is on probation in Reno for battery domestic violence (NRS 200.485). His friend asks him to help him fix up his house in Carson City. Brandt packs his tools and motorcycles towards his friend’s house. On the way, he is stopped at a DUI checkpoint. A police officer sees the tools and assumes he is going to use them to commit burglary. Brandt is then booked at the Washoe County Detention Facility not only for violating NRS 205.080 but also for violating probation.
Brandt in the above example would need to show the court that he intended to help repair his friend’s house. If successful, the charge could be dismissed and his parole could be reinstated.
Still, probationers must be careful never to exhibit behavior that police can misconstrue as suspicious. Winning a probation violation hearing is tougher than winning a trial because the D.A. has a lower burden of proof.
3. What are the penalties?
Possession of burglary tools is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada. The sentence is:
- Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
- Up to $2,000 in fines2
Predictably, these penalties are lower than the sentence for felony theft crimes. This is because the defendant was caught before he/she could steal anything.
4. What are the immigration consequences?
Violating NRS 205.080 is usually not deportable. But there is no sure thing in immigration law. The rules are constantly changing.
Therefore, non-citizens charged with any crime are advised to get a lawyer. If the charge threatens their resident status, the lawyer may be able to get the case dismissed or reduced to a non-deportable offense.
5. Can the record be sealed?
Yes. But unless the charge gets dropped, there is a wait. Gross misdemeanor convictions must stay on the defendant’s record for two years. Only then can the defendant ask the court for a record seal.3 Learn how to get a Nevada record seal.
Arrested for a crime? Call a lawyer for help…
Charged with possession of burglary tools in Nevada? Phone our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers. We can discuss your case for free.
We may be able to get the charges lessened or dismissed so your record stays clean. But if necessary, we are always prepared for trial to pursue an acquittal.
In California? See our article on burglary tool possession (Penal Code 466 PC).
In Colorado? See our article on burglary tool possession (18-4-205 C.R.S.).
- NRS 205.080.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.