A marijuana grow house was discovered early this morning in West Palm Beach, Florida. Fire fighters arrived at the scene of a burning mobile home at 5:27 a.m. When the firefighters entered the mobile home looking for residents, the discovered the presence of twelve marijuana plants. Fire fighters entered the residence because neighbors believed that three people resided in the mobile home.
So far no arrests have been made, although I am sure that police investigators are doing their best to determine the identities of those who lived there, or at least frequented the mobile home.
Since growing marijuana requires electricity, the mobile was either connected to an FPL account, a fuel generator, or was stealing electricity from another source. Given my experience as a criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor, my guess is that the fire was likely started by messed up electrical wires used to steal power from another source or from gasoline or some other flammable liquid that was used to fuel a generator.
The reason why marijuana grow house operators either steal electricity or make their own using generators, is because law enforcement investigators will look at a property’s electrical bill to see if an exponentially large sum of electricity is consumed at that location.
For those who are not familiar with how marijuana grow houses operate, in order to grow marijuana effectively, cultivators need a lot of electricity to power high intensity lights, including UV bulbs, as well as fans to keep things cool and air circulating. As a result, police investigators look for unusually high electricity usage to identify grow houses.
Now, please understand, it is not as if law enforcement goes around reading everyone’s electric bills looking for pot growers. However, to be successful in the drug trade, as in any other business, one has to sell his product to a lot of people. Since the marijuana business is illegal, your business partners will eventually get caught.
Once caught, a lot of people will turn on their cohorts and act as a snitch to save their own skin. That is when law enforcement learns about your little operation, starts doing surveillance, and begins building a case that is intended to culminate with your eventual arrest.
One major factor used when obtaining a search warrant, is evidence that the target location uses an exponential amount of electricity that is above and beyond the norm for a property of its type. Said more accurately, it uses an amount of electricity that is consistent with a marijuana grow house of its size.
Later, once marijuana charges are filed, prosecutors will use the exponentially high electrical bill as additional circumstantial proof that you operated a grow house. They will also rely on such evidence if your criminal defense lawyer ever challenges the search warrant and accused police of doing an illegal search.
In any event, unless the people who were operating this grow house did a really god job at covering their tracks, odds are criminal charges are forthcoming. In fact, I would not be surprised if this grow house was used by the residents of the trailer part to grow their own weed.
If they are smart, these people will hire the most intelligent criminal lawyer they can find. Analyzing every detail of this case will be necessary to flush out any and all available defenses.