It’s rarely a good thing to have the police called to your home. Domestic dispute calls are almost always the result of some kind of intense conflict, and officers take them seriously.
Just because they are called out doesn’t mean a crime happened, though, and often no charges are pressed. This doesn’t mean you’re home free, though.
If you or someone else in your home own drug paraphernalia, a domestic dispute can lead to drug charges. That’s what led to the recent arrest of a DeSoto man.
Domestic Disputes, Warrants, and Drug Charges in Texas
In the DeSoto case, police were at the man’s home after getting called for a domestic dispute. They were in the house already, with legal permission.
While interviewing people about the dispute, they noticed the distinctive glow of plant lights in another room. Officers requested a rush warrant to investigate, and received the legal go-ahead.
Upon entering the room, they found significant amounts of live marijuana, along with equipment to grow more. On this evidence, they arrested the resident and seized the paraphernalia and plants.
The exact charges the DeSoto man will face are still pending, but officers were able to get a warrant quickly because they had probable cause on their side.
While it’s completely legal to have grow lights and cultivate plants inside, it’s not common. Having a large indoor horticulture setup is rare enough that it points to illegal activity – usually growing marijuana.
How Texas Law Qualifies Probable Cause
In general, probable cause is a legal requirement for law enforcement officials. In order to arrest someone in Texas, take their property, or search their belongings, police must have a reasonable idea that a crime occurred. Probable cause is actually a constitutional right, guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.
There are a variety of ways probable cause might be determined. Seeing bright grow lights in a house with a mediocre yard is probable cause for a search. The owner doesn’t appear to care about plants in general, so it’s extremely suspicious to see other signs of serious indoor cultivation.
Likewise, an officer seeing empty alcohol containers in a car during a traffic stop is probable cause to search it. Having apparently credible witnesses to a crime are probable cause to arrest a suspect without a warrant.
Having a “reasonable idea” that a crime occurred is the basis for probable cause, and it’s a vague concept for a reason; It’s left that way to protect civilians’ rights.
When Law Enforcement Doesn’t Have Probable Cause
Of course, sometimes there isn’t probable cause to search. Simply suspecting someone committed a crime is not a high enough standard.
If an officer searches your home simply because it looks like a place someone might grow cannabis, that’s illegal. Hunches are not enough. Searching because you look like “a criminal” is illegal, and maybe even considered racial profiling depending on other circumstances.
If officers do not have specific details regarding why they searched you, they don’t have probable cause.
Arrests, searches, or seizures done without probable cause are invalid and inadmissible. If you are in a situation where officers didn’t have probable cause, an experienced attorney can help.
You’re protected from illegal searches by the Bill of RIghts. If you feel like your rights have been violated, you deserve to get the best, most experienced help.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.