Marijuana Grow House Charges and Probable Cause
Marijuana grow house busts are on the rise throughout Palm Beach County, Florida as recently shown with several arrest of Lantana residents Raul Contreras Gonzalez, Luis Acosta and Victor Perez. Why such a spike in grow house busts by local, state and federal agents of those allegedly growing, cultivating and trafficking in weed throughout Palm Beach County, FL?
One of the biggest reasons for the recent busts comes from the Palm Beach County Sheriff, Ric Bradshaw, who has made it his goal to have his deputies arrest all users, possessors and traffickers in marijuana. Another reason is the government’s role in not being able to tax illegal weed, in what it calls their crack down on drug policies. Because with every arrest for marijuana, comes a jail cell ran by the Palm Beach County Sheriff, Ric Bradshaw, and the funding that follows that arrest through federal “weed and seed” grants; federal weapons and vehicle grants; that Sheriff Ric Bradshaw gladly accepts.
Palm Beach County has received military grade weapons and military grade vehicles from the Department of Justice through Attorney General, Eric Holder, to keep the citizens of Palm Beach County “safe,” all to combat drugs in the community like marijuana. Additionally, the revenues that are produced from marijuana and other drug crime arrests like: court costs and fines; the “ten” dollar a day Palm Beach County Inmate Jail Fee; and the Federal Funds and goodies received by Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw are the motivating factors behind all marijuana bust throughout Palm Beach County, FL.
The bottom line with illegal drugs, like marijuana, is that Government will continue to combat it because of the big revenue stream that it produces for many government agencies like: the Palm Beach County Sheriff, the Palm Beach County Clerk of Courts, the Palm Beach County Public Defender’s Office, the Office of the State Attorney for Palm Beach County, Florida and countless other government agencies throughout Palm Beach County and throughout the State of Florida. Remember that government must take money from its citizens, as government produces nothing, and through the fight on drugs is one way to secure revenues throughout Palm Beach County, FL.
Marijuana grow houses fall under trafficking in cannabis within the Florida General Statutes and is contained within sections 893.135 (1) (a) (1). The Florida marijuana statute reads in pertinent part as follows: Any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession of, in excess of 25 pounds of cannabis, or 300 or more cannabis plants, commits a felony of the first degree, which felony shall be known as “trafficking in cannabis,” punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083 or s. 775.084 If the quantity of cannabis involved:
- Is in excess of 25 pounds, but less than 2,000 pounds, or is 300 or more cannabis plants, but not more than 2,000 cannabis plants, such person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 3 years, and the defendant shall be ordered to pay a fine of $25,000.
- Is 2,000 pounds or more, but less than 10,000 pounds, or is 2,000 or more cannabis plants, but not more than 10,000 cannabis plants, such person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 7 years, and the defendant shall be ordered to pay a fine of $50,000.
- Is 10,000 pounds or more, or is 10,000 or more cannabis plants, such person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 calendar years and pay a fine of $200,000.
For the purpose of this paragraph, a plant, including, but not limited to, a seedling or cutting, is a “cannabis plant” if it has some readily observable evidence of root formation, such as root hairs. To determine if a piece or part of a cannabis plant severed from the cannabis plant is itself a cannabis plant, the severed piece or part must have some readily observable evidence of root formation, such as root hairs. Callous tissue is not readily observable evidence of root formation. The viability and sex of a plant and the fact that the plant may or may not be a dead harvested plant are not relevant in determining if the plant is a “cannabis plant” or in the charging of an offense under this paragraph. Upon conviction, the court shall impose the longest term of imprisonment provided for in this paragraph.
After reading the Florida Marijuana Statue it is plain to see that Florida Legislatures have made possession and trafficking in Marijuana a serious offense. The courts have recently too made grow house busts much easier to accomplish through many recent rulings. Did you know that in Florida it is legal for police officers to photograph customers entering and leaving hydroponic retail stores? Yes, law enforcement officers in fact hang outside of retail stores and photograph license plates, customers and then run the information through DAVID-an acronym for a Florida State wide driver’s license check to determine who and where the customer of the hydroponic store is. See State v. Delrio, 56 So. 3rd 848 (2nd DCA 2011).
Once Palm Beach County Sheriff’s officers have identified hydroponic customers, they often keep a log and run the names through the NCIC data base or through other local agency criminal background checks to help them identify possible marijuana growers. If the hydroponic customer has a previous criminal record for marijuana sale, cultivation, trafficking or is a known drug dealer, then law enforcement will begin to investigate the location or residence of the hydroponics customer.
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Special Drug Unit, DEA and other special drug task force officers will then deploy many tools to determine the probability of marijuana growing at a home, trailer home, business, warehouse, out building or any other location throughout the county. One’s electric bill or electrical meter reading will show the amount of usage and become an area of interest to the investigating law enforcement officers, because high electrical usage correlates to the use of: heat lights for growing, water pumps for irrigation and fans for cooling off the plants.
Another useful tactic that law enforcement officers deploy is to have local utility agencies, cable company installers, landscapers, swimming pool companies or other third party workers that may be legally invited unto the marijuana growers property give them information about the property like: blacked out windows, electric meter tampering, fans that may be place in out buildings which are running while no one is present, padlocks on gates and doors that led into the residence or out buildings and a number of other clues of why law enforcement officers gain access into the suspected marijuana growers residence, property or out building.
One might say to themselves, police seem to be acting wrongly, deceptively or illegally, when they use other non-law enforcement officers like cable guys, landscapers, pool cleaning companies and utility men like FPL workers to gain access to the property and report their findings to the investigators. But the Appellate courts have held that: “Even where a court finds the police acted deceptively, it must excise the erroneous material and determine whether the remaining allegations in the affidavit for search warrant support probable cause. If the remaining statements are sufficient to establish probable cause, the false statement will not invalidate the resulting search warrant. See Terry v. State, 668 So. 2d 954 (Fla. 1996). Remember though that if the false statement is necessary to establish probable cause, the search warrant must be voided, and the evidence seized as a result of the search must be excluded. See Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154, 156 (U.S. 1978) and Thorp v. State, 777 So. 2d 385 (Fla. 2000).
As the above case points out, courts sanitize the warrant or bless the government misconduct. The courts in Florida are political and have shredded the U.S. Constitution with their unlawful rulings for decades. This is why you need an aggressive lawyer to advise you and protect you or your loved one. If you or a loved one are suspected of running a marijuana grow house, or have been accused or arrested for any marijuana crime, contact a proven criminal defense lawyer, who has trial and appellate court experience in protecting the rights of the accused in all drug crimes. Contact Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Lawyer Andrew D. Stine. For well over a decade, West Palm Beach Criminal Attorney, Andrew D. Stine, has been defending those in the trial courts and appellate courts accused of trafficking in marijuana, running grow houses, sale and possession of marijuana. Hire Stine or Do the Time.