Wednesday, August 29, 2007

People v. Kelly (Cal. Ct. App. - Aug. 29, 2007)

Here's a quiz for you. Section 466 of the Penal Code criminalizes the possession of burglary tools, which is defined by the statute to expressly include (but not be limited to) the following: "a picklock, crow, keybit, crowbar, screwdriver, vise grip pliers, water-pump pliers, slidehammer, slim jim, tension bar, lock pick gun, tubular lock pick, floor-safe door puller, master key, [and] ceramic or porcelain spark plug chips or pieces."

You get a pretty keen sense what burglary tools are from that list. The only thing that may seem weird is that last enumerated item: "ceramic or porcelain spark plug chips or pieces." Which was added by the Legislature specifically in response to a 2001 decision of the Court of Appeal that said that such items were not burglary tools under the statute.

So, given that list, as well as the common understanding of what a burglary tool is, and in light of the ejusdem generis rule of construction, which of the following are burglary tools the possession of which are prohibited by Section 466 notwithstanding their failure to be specificially enumerated:

(A) Box cutters.
(B) Slingshots.
(C) Flashlights.
(D) Condoms.

Got your answer? Well, according to this opinion by the Court of Appeal, the correct answer is that (A) and (B) are definitely included and that (C) may well be included.

I made up (D), so Justice Siggins expresses no opinion as to whether that's a burglary tool as well.