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Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. Gets Conviction Reversed for a Man Charged with Felony Drug Possession

Attorneys Joe Tamburino and Hillary Parsons defended a client who was accused of a felony for growing marijuana in Hennepin County. A gas leak was discovered in the Brooklyn Park building where the defendant owned a business some years prior to the incident, and so the pilot lights needed to be relit.

Center Point Energy was called to carry out the job, though they had difficulty finding the owner of one of the units in order to gain access. Police were called to oversee the process, and, while there, they detected the scent of “unburnt marijuana.” Upon further investigation, they traced the marijuana to another unit, which was owned by the defendant in the case. 16-20 harvested marijuana plants were discovered in the unit, prompting the police to arrest the defendant. He was later charged with felony drug possession.

No Cause to Convict Defendant

The police committed a glaring offense in this case because they did not obtain a warrant to enter into the building and search. The only time where police may be allowed to enter into a home and search is during an emergency. Unlawful search and seizure is a direct violation of a citizen’s rights under the Fourth Amendment.

Other rights under the Fourth Amendment include:

  • Government officials are not allowed to search without a warrant
  • Law enforcement must have probably cause that a crime had occurred
  • The situation has justifiable reasons
  • The search must be carried out for the benefit of the public

The prosecution was unable to prove that the situation was an emergency—no 911 call, no ambulance response, and nothing was a great risk to anyone's safety. Under the law, police should only be present in this instance during an emergency.

Court of Appeals Dismisses Arguments

The Court of Appeals remained unconvinced by the prosecution’s arguments, which felt weak in light of the Fourth Amendment.

Attorney Joe Tamburino pointed out that the police had direct involvement: “As soon as the police got there, they took control of the situation. The police had the Center Point Energy person stand aside while he went in first, he did the search. So they took control of the situation.”

Even though police did obtain a warrant, they had already entered the property and located the marijuana. Obtaining the warrant after the fact did little to change the court’s mind. The Court of Appeals’ final decision was to reverse the conviction against the defendant, and thus a win for the legal team at Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A.

Would you like more information about this case or how we can provide defense for criminal charges? Contact our firm today to speak with a member of our team!

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