Hillsborough County Marijuana Grow House Arrest

At the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, we pay particular attention to the latest developments for marijuana grow house investigations in Hillsborough County.

Jason and Leslie Sammis are both attorneys on the NORML legal committee which fights for the reform of marijuana laws throughout the country.

Click on the links below to read about our recent case results.

In many of these cases, the officers get a tip from another person (who is busted for their own drug offense) about a possible marijuana grow house operation.

The officers will not have enough evidence for a warrant based solely on the tip. Instead, the officers go to the house for the purpose of conducting a "voluntary" interview.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) calls these cases "knock and talk" investigations because the police knock on the door and then try to talk with the person who answers the door.

The police ask to come into the house (even though this request is merely voluntary), and then if they smell or see marijuana (or other contraband) they can arrest the person who answered the door.

During the course of the arrest, they can search the residence for other people. In the process of that search, the officer might find evidence of a marijuana grow house operation. In many of these cases, only after discovering that evidence will the officers attempt to get a search warrant.

These cultivation of marijuana or grow house cases in the Tampa Bay area often hinge on the following types of issues which require a careful examination of each and every fact in the case:
  1. What was the tip or other facts leading to the "knock and talk"?
  2. Was the house gated thereby communicating to the officers that they did not have consent to knock on the front door?
  3. Once the officers knocked on the front door, did they gain access to the house based on actual consent to enter the home?
  4. Was the consent to enter the house really "free and voluntary" or did the officers do something to coerce the consent?
  5. Was the consent withdrawn at any point?
  6. Did the officers exceed the scope of the consent?
  7. Did the officers have any basis to search the house after gaining entry?
  8. Did the officers read Miranda prior to interrogation?
  9. Did the officers promise the suspect leniency in exchange for the statements?
Because these "knock and talk" searches occur without a warrant and occur at a person's residence, the searches are highly suspect under the Fourth Amendment. Any mistake by law enforcement can lead to the suppression of all evidence gained during the "knock and talk."

The HCSO just announced a press release on May 5, 2010, dealing with a similar case:

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office received a tip about a suspected cannabis grow operation located at 7806 Cortez Avenue in Tampa, Florida. Hillsborough County Sheriff's officers were dispatched to the residence based on the tip. During the investigation, the officers reported finding two rooms inside a house that were being used for the purpose of cultivating marijuana.

The officers reported finding nine large cannabis plants in various flowering stages inside the home. The officers also reported finding marijuana grow lights, ballasts, fans, and a secondary air conditioning unit.

Upon further investigation, deputies reported an illegal connection to a Tampa Electric meter box that was allowing electricity into the home that was not registering on the meter.

Law enforcement officers with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported seizing nine large cannabis plants totaling more than sixty pounds with an estimated street value of $240,000.00. The suspect was then taken into custody.

The suspect was charged under Florida law in Tampa, Hillsborough County with trafficking in marijuana, manufacture / cultivation of marijuana, theft of electricity, possession for purpose of selling or trafficking cannabis.

Contact a Marijuana Defense Attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss any "knock and talk" case involving marijuana charges by calling 813-250-0500.

We represent clients in cases involving the cultivation of cannabis or marijuana grow house cases throughout the Tampa Bay area including Hillsborough County, Bartow in Polk County, Clearwater or St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, New Port Richey or Dade City in Pasco County, Bushnell in Sumter County, Brooksville in Hernando County, Bradenton in Manatee County, or Sarasota County, FL.

Read more about our case results in marijuana grow house cases in the Tampa Bay area:

Watch the YouTube Video from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on Operation Indoor Outlaws Part 1. Shows law enforcement officers executing a search warrant at a large grow house operation. Discussion by Supervisor at Tampa Electric Company's Revenue Protection Department which does investigations into stolen electric services on how grow house operations and homes with marijuana cultivations can be spotted.

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