Charged With Operating a Marijuana Grow House?
If you have been arrested and charged with operating a marijuana grow house/cultivation of marijuana and the accompanying charge of felony possession of marijuana you can be facing very serious consequences in State court or Federal court.
Under the “Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act” Florida Statute Section 893.1351 passed into law in 2008, this law increases penalties for the possession of marijuana in certain larger quantities. The Grow House Eradication Act increases penalties for possession of 25 or more plants or more than 25 pounds of marijuana; the court must impose a 3 year minimum mandatory (min man) prison sentence for a second degree felony which is ultimately punishable up to 15 years in incarceration. If children are present on the home or property where the marijuana plants are being grown makes it a 1st degree felony. The penalties are also increased for larger cache’ of marijuana: possession of over 2000lbs can net a 7 year min man sentence. Possession of over 10,000 pounds can net a 15 year min man sentence.
There are many defenses for the charge of operating a marijuana grow house. First to search a home police need a warrant signed by either State or Federal judge, that is based upon legally obtained evidence that creates probable cause to perform a search. The legitimacy of the probable cause must be based upon the statutes and appellate court decisions. A warrant signed by a judge still must withstand a legal challenge if evidence for the warrant was illegally obtained. For instance the United States Supreme Court has ruled that police cannot use an infrared camera at night to detect heat leakage from a home that indicates intense lighting in a home to facilitate plant growth as probable cause for a warrant. Also police cannot bring a drug detection dog up to the entrance of a suspected grow house that alerts them to the illegal content as probable cause. This can happen when there is either not enough evidence or the evidence included in the warrant request turns out not to be accurate.
Another defense to grow house cases is whether the government can show constructive possession. If you did not know that the marijuana was there, had no control over the area of the property where the Marijuana was found, the government may not be able to prove you had constructive possession of the contraband. The key to a constructive possession defense is that the marijuana must be found in a small limited area and you did not know it was there. If the illegal substance was found on you or if the police find you living inside a grow house and you had full access to the entire grow house operation, this defense may not work. If the grow house was in a separate area of the home or was in a outbuilding or shed where you did not know it was there or had any access or control of those areas then the government may not be able to show constructive possession and your charges cannot be proven.
When the government carries out unlawful searches or seizures, evidence derived from that search is subject to suppression (exclusion) from the Government’s case against you. Warrant and search and seizure defenses can be denied and the search upheld if an authorized person who lives at the residence freely and voluntarily allows a law enforcement officer without a warrant to conduct a search. This term for this is “consent to search”. If a person consenting to a search did so due to threats or coercion however the evidence of the search can be suppressed as well.
- Any person who willfully and unlawfully, or while in the commission of any felony, by fire or explosion, damages or causes to be damaged:
- Any dwelling, whether occupied or not, or its contents.
If a “fire is caused while in the commission of a felony” ie. grow house operation fire investigators will likely charge you with arson if they can prove your responsibility for the operation. Arson is a 1st degree felony punishable by a maximum of 30 years in prison with a minimum of 36 months in prison according to the sentencing guidelines. Growing several plants in your closet which causes a fire can also get you charged with arson, but again the government has to prove your responsibility. Also remember that because there is a fire, fireman and police can enter your home without a warrant under exigent(emergency) circumstances to fight the fire and to save human life and if they see illegal evidence, the police may apply for a warrant to then search, collect and preserve the evidence.
At the Law Offices of Darren D. Shull we have extensive knowledge regarding the defenses if you have been arrested for the operation of a grow house and the surrounding charges that my come from that arrest and investigation. Please call for a free consultation so that your rights can be fully explored and all proper defenses can be raised to defend you. Marijuana grow house attorney Darren Shull Tequesta, Jupiter Farms, Palm Beach Gardens, the Acreage, Loxahatchee, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Martin County, St. Lucie County and Okeechobee county.
Call for a free consultation 561-972-6444 or visit our contact page.