Texas Penal Code 16.01 – Unlawful Use of Criminal Instrument or Mechanical Security Device
WHAT IS UNLAWFUL USE OF CRIMINAL INSTRUMENT OR MECHANICAL SECURITY DEVICE IN TEXAS?
A person commits unlawful use of a criminal instrument or mechanical security device by making, selling, installing, or possessing a device that can be used to commit a crime.
- What is a criminal instrument? Texas law defines a criminal instrument as anything specifically made, designed, or adapted to be used to commit a crime, it can be considered a criminal instrument. Due to this broad definition, it can be many things.
- What is a mechanical security device? A mechanical security device is commonly known as a lock-picking tool. It is legally defined as a device “for use by a locksmith,” and it is a crime to possess or make such a device for purposes of breaking into a building, car, or other property.
WHAT IS THE UNLAWFUL USE OF CRIMINAL INSTRUMENT OR MECHANICAL SECURITY DEVICE LAW IN TEXAS?
Tex. Penal Code § 16.01. UNLAWFUL USE OF CRIMINAL INSTRUMENT OR MECHANICAL SECURITY DEVICE.
(a) A person commits an offense if:
(1) the person possesses a criminal instrument or mechanical security device with the intent to use the instrument or device in the commission of an offense; or
(2) with knowledge of its character and with the intent to use a criminal instrument or mechanical security device or aid or permit another to use the instrument or device in the commission of an offense, the person manufactures, adapts, sells, installs, or sets up the instrument or device.
(c) An offense under Subsection (a)(1) is one category lower than the offense intended. An offense under Subsection (a)(2) is a state jail felony.
WHAT IS THE PENALTY CLASS FOR UNLAWFUL USE OF CRIMINAL INSTRUMENT OR MECHANICAL SECURITY DEVICE IN TEXAS?
Manufacturing, adapting, selling, installing, or setting up a criminal instrument or mechanical security device is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days to two years in a state jail facility.
Possession of a criminal instrument or a mechanical security device with the intent to commit a crime is punishable as one penalty class lower than the intended crime.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT RANGE FOR UNLAWFUL USE OF CRIMINAL INSTRUMENT OR MECHANICAL SECURITY DEVICE IN TEXAS?
The punishment range for manufacturing, adapting, selling, installing, or setting up a criminal instrument or mechanical security device, a state jail felony, is between 180 days and two years in a state jail facility, and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Possession of a criminal instrument or a mechanical security device with the intent to commit a crime has the punishment range of one penalty class below the intended crime.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR UNLAWFUL USE OF CRIMINAL INSTRUMENT OR MECHANICAL SECURITY DEVICE IN TEXAS?
As an alternative to confinement, a person charged with unlawful use of a criminal instrument or mechanical security device may be eligible for probation after a conviction, or deferred adjudication without a conviction.
The maximum period of community supervision for a Class A or Class B misdemeanor is two years. For a state jail felony, community supervision may be between two and five years, and up to ten years for any higher category of felony.
WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO UNLAWFUL USE OF CRIMINAL INSTRUMENT OR MECHANICAL SECURITY DEVICE IN TEXAS?
It is possible to raise justification defenses during a trial for unlawful use of a criminal instrument or mechanical security device, such as necessity or defense of property. However, the most common defense strategy for this crime is to negate the allegation that what the accused possessed is a criminal instrument.
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR UNLAWFUL USE OF CRIMINAL INSTRUMENT OR MECHANICAL SECURITY DEVICE IN TEXAS?
The limitation period for unlawful use of a criminal instrument or mechanical security device is three years when charged as a felony, and two years if it is a misdemeanor.
UNLAWFUL USE OF CRIMINAL INSTRUMENT OR MECHANICAL SECURITY DEVICE IN TEXAS
If a person is caught in possession of lock-picking tools or any other device that could conceivably be used to commit a crime, that person may be charged with unlawful use of a criminal instrument or mechanical security device.
The law broadly defines “criminal instrument,” so ordinary objects that could be used for criminal purposes may be considered a criminal instrument under certain circumstances.
TEXAS UNLAWFUL USE OF CRIMINAL INSTRUMENT OR MECHANICAL SECURITY DEVICE COURT CASES
The case law regarding unlawful use of a criminal instrument or mechanical security device in Texas discusses the practical application of this law. A “criminal instrument” is not restricted to objects that can only be used for criminal purposes. Rather, an object’s intended use depends on the design or adaptation, and the facts and circumstances.
- In Medina v. State, a Texas appellate court decided a semi-truck modified with a fuel pump and an extended fuel tank, which held up to six times the ordinary amount of fuel, had been “adapted” and “set up” for stealing fuel. It was thus a criminal instrument under the circumstances.
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DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15
Driving facts involved failing to maintain a single lane and speeding. Client refused breath test and forced law enforcement to obtain search warrant for blood. Blood test result was not used after challenge from Defense, and State waived and abandoned charge.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client was a college student, worried about the collateral consequences of an alcohol offense. After negotiation and review of the traffic stop, the case was dismissed. Client received no criminal conviction. The charge was later expunged and deleted from client’s record.
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15+
Client was involved in minor accident. Client was at fault in accident. A young executive, client was concerned that a criminal conviction for DWI would result in termination. After review of the traffic stop, it was clear the officer lacked probable cause for arrest. State eventually dismissed DWI charge. Client received no criminal conviction.
Client, a military veteran, was facing up to one year in jail. State could not prove intoxication by alcohol, and was prepared to proceed on loss of use by marijuana. After challenging the State to prove that marijuana was ingested at or near time of driving, and that marijuana impaired client’s driving, the State dismissed the case on the day of trial.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Driving facts involved a false claim by police that taillight was out. After challenging the reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, the State was forced to dismiss the case when video did not match police report. Client has since expunged arrest, and has no criminal record.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client is a public school teacher and faced immediate termination upon conviction. The facts of the case were bad. State was unwilling to budge in negotiation, and matter was set for trial – the last shot at avoiding a conviction and preserving client’s livelihood. State was forced to dismiss on day of trial. Client has no criminal record, and has since expunged the DWI arrest.
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