In Miami-Dade and Broward County, we see a lot of police raids on marijuana grow houses. These are ordinary homes that are used for the purpose of growing marijuana. The homes may be retrofitted with special halogen lights, drip-line watering systems, and other methods for growing marijuana indoors. The problem is, the State of Florida may consider this to be marijuana trafficking and there may be severe penalties attached.
Marijuana Grow Houses
Posted By Eric Matheny
As a Miami grow house attorney, and when I was a prosecutor with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office , I have experienced grow house cases. Typically, the police are "tipped off" to the grow house a number of ways. Maybe a neighbor suspects something and calls police. Police set up surveillance, maybe they find a reason to arrest somebody leaving the house, and that person talks. Or maybe (and this is common) Florida Power and Light (FPL) contacts police to alert them of an unusually high electric bill. A marijuana grow house requires a lot of electricity in order to produce high-quality marijuana plants. The lighting and irrigation systems usually run on timers, however, they still require 15+ hours of electricity a day. This can raise an electric bill from say $130 a month for a 2,200 square-foot home up to $600+ per month. This will raise a red flag over at FPL.
The first thing I do in every trafficking case is examine how the police were able to find the alleged narcotics in the first place. Our legal system is not based on simply the ends justifying the means. Police must use careful, specific procedures in obtaining search warrants in order to enter your home. If the police have entered your home without a search warrant, it is crucial that you contact a Miami criminal lawyer, or Broward criminal lawyer who will exploit the flaws in the investigation. If police violated your civil rights, there is a strong liklihood of success on a motion to suppress, or a request to the Court that the evidence obtained (the marijuana) be thrown out. And without evidence, the State Attorney cannot continue with a prosecution against you. This is a vital tool in a criminal defense attorney's war against the State Attorney when it comes to trafficking offenses.
So you know, the penalties for marijuana trafficking in the Miami-Dade and Broward are high. But first, let's examine the full range of marijuana crimes.
1. Possession of Marijuana (Cannabis) is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in county jail. For misdemeanor possession, the accused person must have less than 20 grams on or about their person.
2. Felony Possession of Marijuana (Cannabis) is a 3rd-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in state prison. For felony possession of marijuana, the accused person must have more than 20 grams on or about their person.
3. Possession with Intent to Sell Marijuana (Cannabis) is also a 3rd-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in state prison. For Possession with Intent to Sell Marijuana, there must be evidence that the marijuana was intended for sale. This can include possession of baggies, or separately packaged baggies of marijuana. The amount need not be 20 grams or more, there just has to be some evidence that the marijuana was intended for sale, not personal use.
4. Trafficking in Marijuana (Cannabis) is a 1st-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in state prison. Marijuana traffickingis defined as selling, purchasing, manufacturing, delivering, or bringing into the state, or being in actual or constructive possession of 25 pounds of marijuana or more, or 300 or more plants (this would apply to the grow house cases).
a) If there is an excess of 25 pounds, but less than 2,000 pounds, or 300 or more plants, but less than 2,000 plants, the MANDATORY MINIMUM PRISON SENTENCE is 3 years, and the accused person shall be ordered to pay a fine of $25,000.00.
b) If 2,000 pounds or more, but less than 10,000 pounds, or 2,000 or more plants, but less than 10,000 plants, there is a MANDATORY MINIMUM PRISON SENTENCE of 7 years, and the accused person shall be ordered to pay a fine of $50,000.00
c) If there is 10,000 pounds or more, or 10,000 plants or more, there is a MANDATORY MINIMUM PRISON SENTENCE of 15 years, with a $200,000 fine.
I highlight the term "mandatory minimum prison sentence" to stress how seriously marijuana trafficking is dealt with by prosecutors and police. They are, however, defensible crimes and should always be examined by a Miami criminal lawyer or Broward criminal lawyer, depending on the county of arrest.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for operating a marijuana grow house, or being involved in marijuana trafficking, call me today.