Two defendants in a 2013 case in Tennessee had a small marijuana growing operation in their single-wide trailer. Agents with the Drug Task Force received a tip that there was an operation ongoing and that the defendants were “harvesting” that night.
Using this information, several agents went to the trailer where the defendants were growing marijuana. Once the agents arrived at the home, they found several indicators of a marijuana growing operation. Several agents smelled a “very strong odor of marijuana” consistent with a marijuana growing operation.
The agents also checked on the electricity bill of the home, which was well more than $300 a month. For comparison, an average home of the size of the one being investigated has a monthly bill in the $70/month range. This type of variance in electricity can potentially indicate the use of lamps used in marijuana growing operations.
Using these indicators, the agents attempted to do a “knock and talk,” which is a type of investigation where agents or police officers simply go to the home of a suspect and ask to come in. Believe it or not, many suspects allow officers in their home despite the fact that there are drugs or paraphernalia out in the open.
In this case, the defendant exercised his rights and told the police to come back when they had a warrant.
At this point, the agents grabbed the defendant and entered the home of the defendant anyway. Once inside, the agents found marijuana plants and evidence of a marijuana growing operation. Agents then obtained a warrant to seize the evidence.
During trial, the court found that the agents had illegally entered the home and violated the rights of the defendant. As a result, all evidence of the marijuana growing operation was suppressed.