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How Police Find Marijuana Grow Houses

Ever since the Miami-Dade County cocaine boom of the 1980s and 1990s died down, marijuana grow houses have become increasingly popular in Miami-Dade and Broward County.
A marijuana grow house is literally a residence, or rented/owned unoccupied property, where marijuana is grown in rooms or outside. Most of the marijuana is grown indoors with the use of hydroponics, halogen grow lights, and drip-line irrigation systems.
A grow house can be considered trafficking if the house contains 300 plants or 25 pounds of marijuana or more. In terms of pounds, the trafficking statute says that all of the plant material can be weighed, not just the leaves, buds, or resin.
Marijuana grow houses in Miami and Broward are almost always discovered by police through confidential informants or citizen tips (Crime Stoppers). Neighbors may report suspicious activity, which in turn will cause the police to watch the home. They may see somebody leaving the home, they find an excuse to talk to him or her, and come to find out that that person has purchased marijuana inside that home. The police then get a search warrant and search the home.
Sometimes, the cops don't get a warrant. They may knock on the door and ask permission to come inside. This is called a consent search, and it is legal so long as you or an occupant with the apparent authority to consent to the search gives the police permission to search the home.
Don't do this.
The 4th Amendment protects against unlawful searches and seizures. You are free to be safe against law enforcement intrusions in your home. Unless the cops have a warrant, do not let them inside your house. Make them go and get a warrant. Chances are, if they could have, they would have. Consent searches are a way for cops to bypass having to get a judge to sign a warrant.
Another red flag for a grow house is the FPL (Florida Power & Light) bill. Every month, a meter reader comes by your home and notes the kilowatt usage per month. This is how your monthly FPL bill is calculated. Miami-Dade and Broward County enjoy a warm, humid climate about nine months out of the year, so most of your bill comes from running the A/C all day. In the winter, we usually cut if off when temperatures dip down in the 50s and 40s, but it's not so cold that we run the heater. That is why in the summer months, your FPL bill may be $250+, but in the winter, it could be as low as $40 or $50. These are normal averages.
Now, if you live in a 2,000 square foot home and your FPL bill is $750 in December, then something is wrong. FPL will contact local law enforcement.
This is because it takes a lot of power to run a marijuana grow house. Marijuana requires about 16 hours of light per day in order to grow. Plus the watering, feeding, and irrigation systems are usually automated. So it takes a lot of kilowatts to keep a grow house up and running.
I practice criminal defense in Miami-Dade County and Broward County. I handle marijuana grow house cases. I can tell you that a good criminal attorney who handles marijuana trafficking (grow house included) will always look to beat your case on search and seizure issues. I believe that with the right set of eyes, a legal argument can be made in every case.
Allow me to evaluate your case. If the police trampled on your constitutional rights, then it doesn't matter how much marijuana they confiscated. Your rights come first.
Don't be a victim of the police. While there are many good cops in Miami and Broward, there are plenty of bad ones who couldn't care less about your rights. They just want to bust you.