My Account
Art of Lock Picking - Learn The Craft of Lock Picking!
Is Lock Picking Illegal - Legality of Lock Picking
Ryan Brown
---
May 21, 2020

Is Lock Picking Illegal? The Honest Truth

Is lock picking illegal?

There is no greater question, nor deterrent, for those wishing to learn lock picking than the fear of breaking the law in the process.

And rightfully so. The very nature of lock picking is to subtly bypass locks. So questioning its legality is totally understandable.

So let's tackle the legality of lock picks head-on and answer this question once and for all for those wishing to take the plunge and begin the amazing craft of lock picking!

You may also like to read:

Are Lock Picks Legal?

In short, I'm happy to inform you that in 94% of the United States and most other countries around the world, the purchase and possession of lock picks is legal.

Yes legal!

With that out of the way, let's dive a little deeper into what makes them illegal in some states and what states those are.

Or if you are just looking for your local laws, just jump down a little further and check out our interactive map of United States Lock Picking Laws.

Lock Picking Legality Terms

To truly understand lock picking laws, we have to break down three simple legal definitions that govern the possession of lock picks.

Don't worry they are pretty straight forward:

  • Not Illegal: In some states, like North Dakota, there are no specific laws regarding lock picks or locksmithing tools. In these states lock picks are not mentioned by any laws, thus possession of lock picks is not illegal.
  • Prima Facie Evidence: Prima Facie is a fancy Latin term that essentially means, "guilty until proven innocent." In states enforcing prima facie evidence, merely possessing lock picks is intent to commit a crime — regardless if you were or not. So if you are caught with lock picks in these states, you may have to prove that you had no intent to use them in a malicious manner. For this reason we consider them illegal in these states.
  • Must Show Intent: In most states, and most of the world, owning lock picks is 100% legal. It is only when you use them in an illegal way that you will find trouble. Lock picks in these states are seen by the law in the same light as a screw driver or hammer. All of these tools can be used illegally, but until you show intent to use them for criminal purposes, they are just tools.

United States Lock Picking Laws

In the US there are several states that have unique laws regarding the possession of lock picks. Three of these states have specific laws directly restricting lock picking tools. These states are:

  • Mississippi: Possession of lock picks is legal so long as they are not concealed. However, once you put them in your pocket it becomes intent to commit a crime. If you live in this state and own lock picks, leave them at home.
  • Tennessee: Possession of lock picks is legal, however, Tennessee has some very strict laws to prevent locksmith fraud. If you live in this state it is illegal to use your skills for any sort of profit unless you are a licensed locksmith. If you don't have a license be sure to keep it a hobby.
  • Illinois: Possession of lock picks is legalhowever, the possession of bump keys is illegal.
  • Nevada: Illegal; Possession can be prima facie evidence of criminal intent. You may have to prove noncriminal intent.
  • Ohio: Illegal; Possession can be prima facie evidence of criminal intent. You may have to prove noncriminal intent.
  • Virginia: Illegal; Possession can be prima facie evidence of criminal intent. You may have to prove noncriminal intent.

Here is our interactive map containing current United States lock picking laws. Hover over your state to check the legality of possessing lock picks and click to read relevant law excerpts.

CHOOSE YOUR STATE!

Please note: This chart is specific to lock pick possession. I do my best to represent the current laws on this chart and keep it updated, however, I do not guarantee its accuracy.

To Conclude

So as you can see, in the majority of the United States locks picks are completely legal to purchase and use. So if you were on the fence about picking up your first lock pick set and jumping into this amazing craft due to legal concerns, hopefully, this short little guide was the push you needed.

Remember that the best way to protect yourself from the law is to know the law. Not every cop nor attorney knows every law so knowing your local laws could one day save you from an unfortunate situation.

Also, in general, just don't do anything stupid and follow the golden rules of lock picking. Only pick locks that you personally own or have explicit permission from the owner to pick and you'll likely never have to fear dropping the soap.

The misinformation about lock picking is sadly one of the greatest reasons most don’t undertake this awesome hobby. Be sure to share this post and help crush the misconceptions that keep so many from starting their own lock picking journey!

Happy picking!

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney nor an expert at law. This article is designed to give a foundation to the legality of lock pick laws. This is my interpretation of the law as the law has always been subjective in its nature. While I will always do my best to keep this page updated, laws do change so be sure to check if there have been any updates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One comment on “Is Lock Picking Illegal? The Honest Truth”

Want More?
The Infamous
GSP Ghost Set
Peterson GSP Ghost Lock Pick Set - Best Lock Pick Set
“Hands Down The Best Beginner Lock Pick Set!”
Learn More!
Most Recent

Burglary Statistics for Homeowners + [Infographic]

Lock picking, however, can come into play in one's home security, but often not in a way that many think. One of the great benefits of learning the skill of lock picking is the unique insight into security that it grants you. We bring you our top five actionable steps to prevent becoming one of these statistics.
Read More

Common Questions #1: Tension Direction, Pick Selection, and Lock Picking Vises

Monthly Questions and Answers #1. This month's questions are about pick selection for deadbolts, which direction to tension a lock, and why people use lock picking vises! Let's get to it!
Read More

Ratyoke: The Worlds Greatest Custom Pick Maker

Ratyoke is known throughout the entire world for making the best lock picks in the history of Locksmithing and Locksport. A master jeweler and world traveler, this full-time goldsmith puts his skills to work with his 100% custom, 100% handcrafted artisan lock picks.
Read More

Which Brand of Lock Picks Are Right For You?

Well to get started, there are over 36 lock pick manufacturers as of 2016, with 1 or 2 new ones popping up in China every couple of months. Let's start with a list of current lock pick brands.
Read More

Security Pins: A Beginner's Guide

Security pins disrupt the feedback that we have come to know and understand, but also provide us with some additional types of feedback that not only SCREAM to us that they are security pins, but also guide us in easily picking them. Ironically enough, once you understand these crafty little pins, they can actually make a lock very easy to pick.
Read More

What Is Binding Order? The First Step of Lock Picking

Finding the binding order is one of the first steps to picking a pin-tumbler lock. But what is binding order and how do we determine it? Let's take a closer look!
Read More
1 2 3 7
Pick With Confidence!
Get Involved
Connect with thousands of other lock pickers in our FREE online community.
Join Our Facebook Group
Shopping Cart
There are no products in the cart!
Subtotal
$0.00
Continue Shopping
0