Burglary/Possession of Burglarious Tools

In Massachusetts, the crime of burglary is defined by G.L. c. 266, § 14 (armed burglary) and G.L c. 266, § 15 (unarmed burglary). The crime of burglary separates into unarmed burglary, for those not armed during the commission of the crime, and an aggravated charge of armed robbery for those who were armed with a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or assault weapon. A person may also be charged with the crime of possessing burglarious tools in Massachusetts. Burglary is considered a serious felony in Massachusetts, and is punishable by a possibility of life in state prison or for any term of years. The distinction between this offense and the offense of breaking and entering is that the crime of burglary involves an actual assault made against a person lawfully therein. The crime of burglary is prosecuted to the fullest extent in Massachusetts; therefore, it is urgent that you retain the legal services of an experienced theft crimes attorney if you or someone you know has been charged with the crime of burglary.

Unarmed Burglary

Unarmed burglary is provided for under Section 15 of Chapter 266 in the General Laws. The law provides that anyone who breaks and enters a dwelling house in the nighttime with the specific intent to commit a felony, the offender not being armed, nor arming himself in such house, with a dangerous weapon, nor making an assault upon a person lawfully therein, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than twenty years and, if the offender has been previously convicted of any crime, he or she shall be imprisoned for a mandatory minimum of 5 years. In order to convict a defendant of unarmed burglary, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The defendant broke and entered a dwelling house;
  2. During the nighttime; and
  3. With the intent to commit a felony.
Aggravated Armed Burglary

In the event the offense was committed while the offender was armed with a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or assault weapon they shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 15 years, and may be imprisoned in the state prison for life or for any term of years. Any second or subsequent offense shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 20 years, and may be imprisoned in the state prison for life or for any term of years.

In order to convict a defendant of aggravated armed burglary, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The defendant broke into and entered a dwelling house;
  2. In the nighttime;
  3. With the intent to commit a felony in the dwelling house; and
  4. At the time of the breaking and entering, a person was lawfully present in the dwelling and the defendant either (1) was armed with a dangerous weapon at the time of the breaking and entering; or (2) armed himself or herself with a dangerous weapon upon entering the dwelling, or (3) committed an actual assault on the person lawfully present in the home.

A dwelling house is any place that people live. Dwelling houses include single-family homes, duplexes, apartments, tenement buildings, hotels, boarding houses, dormitories, or any other buildings where people are domiciled.

Possession of Burglarious Tools

In Massachusetts, one may also be charged with the crime of possessing burglarious tools. Section 49 of chapter 266 of the Massachusetts General Laws provides that whoever knowingly who makes, mends, or has in his or her possession a tool or implement that is adapted and designed for cutting through, forcing or breaking open a building, room, vault, safe or other depository, for the purposes of stealing money or other property therefrom or to commit any other crime shall be punishable under this law. Also, whoever knowingly has in his or her possession a master key designed to fit more than one motor vehicle with the intent to use or employ the key to steal a motor vehicle or other property therefrom shall also be in violation of this law. A conviction for this violation shall result in the following punishments:

  • Imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 10 years, or
  • A fine of not more than $1,000 and imprisonment in jail for not more than 2.5 years.

For the purposes of this section, a tool may be considered burglarious even if it has useful properties other than unlawful activities. For example, items which are commonly used for lawful purposes, such as screwdrivers or chisels or kitchen knives, may be considered to be “burglarious tools” if they can be used to break into a building, room, vault or safe, and are possession for that reason.

Massachusetts Burglary Crimes Defense Lawyer

Courts view burglary, theft and property crimes very seriously in Massachusetts; therefore it is crucial that you obtain the best legal counsel when facing a charge such as Unarmed Burglary or Armed Burglary. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has 18 years of successful experience defending clients facing charges of theft related crimes. Attorney Murphy is a highly resourceful and intelligent Boston-area defense attorney who has built a successful and reputable career vigorously defending his clients. For a free and confidential assessment of you case, please call (617) 367-0450 or email us directly using our online contact form. As a dedicated legal advocate, Attorney Murphy accepts and promptly responds to telephone calls and emails from clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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