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Possession and Manufacture of Cannabis Case

Successful Defense of a Possession and Manufacture of Cannabis Charge

Facts

The client, a painter from St. Augustine, had a hidden area in his home where he grew marijuana. The area was equipped with grow lights, irrigation and outside ventilation. One evening, the police came to the client's door and asked if he had just been out driving his car and also asked him who he'd been with. On the pretext that they needed to search his home for the person they were looking for, the police pushed past the client and entered his home. The client at first consented to the police coming in, but then told them that they could not search his home. Ignoring the client, the police searched his home, entered his bedroom and discovered the hidden marijuana grow area.

Criminal Charges Brought

The client was charged with the possession with the intent to sell cannabis and with possessing a structure to manufacture cannabis. The police described the grow area as an "elaborate operation'; he was also charged with endangering the welfare of a child, since he lived in the house with is young daughter. The client was made a plea offer of no less than one year in prison by the Judge.

My Approach

I immediately filed a detailed motion to suppress the evidence recovered by the police. The search of the client's home was clearly illegal; the police made up a reason to enter the home and then claimed the client consented to the search, even though he had not. By doing this, I alerted the Judge and the prosecutor to the true facts. I also presented evidence that the client was a good father doing his best raising his daughter and it would be devastating to the daughter to be taken away from her father.

Successful Result

Before the suppression hearing was held, the prosecutor softened his position and offered the client a plea to simple possession of cannabis with a withhold of adjudication (that is, no criminal record); the Judge came around and agreed to the deal with no jail time. While I might have pushed for the full hearing on the facts, the deal that was offered was too good to pass up.

Final Analysis

The case required me to show that the police had violated the client's constitutional rights and had no business snooping around the client's home. Since the police officers are able to tell their story first to the prosecutor and the Judge, they are often believed (why would they not believe the police officers with whom they work with hand in hand every day?). This case required showing that the police officers were not being truthful (they had no reason to be at the client's house in the first place) and further showing that the client was a good father who was just using marijuana for his personal use. The client can go on with his life without having to spend a year in prison.

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