In all of the cases I have been involved in as both a Miami-Dade prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney, it has been my experience that nearly every marijuana grow house investigation, at least in Miami-Dade and Broward, begins with a confidential informant.
A confidential informant is somebody who works for the police and provides information to them. The confidential informant, or CI, may be paid for the information they provide or they may be “working off” their own criminal case.
In any regard, this CI will claim to have seen the marijuana growing on the property or will have knowledge that the marijuana is being sold out of the house. The CI will provide the information to the police who in turn will go to the house to investigate.
They may institute a “knock and talk” where the police go to the front door where they will knock and wish to have a “consensual” encounter with the homeowner. The homeowner is under no obligation to speak with the cops or open the door unless the police have a search warrant (which in that case they must open the door but under no circumstances can you ever be compelled to speak to police).
A CI’s tip alone is not enough for the issuance of a search warrant. But in order to get the necessary probable cause for a warrant, the cops may just go to your house, walk around the perimeter (not on your property) and claim to smell marijuana.
Once they smell the marijuana, that, coupled with the CI’s tip, is enough to get a search warrant.
Once the search warrant is issued, the police will come to the house to look for the grow. If they find it, you will face any number of charges, from trafficking in marijuana, to owning or operating a property for the purpose of trafficking in a controlled substance, or simply cultivation of marijuana if you have less than 25 pounds of marijuana or less than 300 plants.
Eric Matheny is a criminal attorney in Miami and Broward assisting clients with marijuana grow house cases.