Wrong Person Killed in Association with Marijuana Grow Operation (CA Health and Safety Code 11358)

The 21-year-old victim’s girlfriend (name withheld for privacy) will tell you that he wanted to be a homicide detective.  In fact, the two of them had been known to watch crime dramas like “Law and Order” while he dreamed of being in the same position as the investigating officers one day.  In a tragic twist of fate, he became the victim of a homicide, right outside his home in San Leandro.

When he was found, shot to death, his vehicle was still running and he was still behind the wheel.  Law enforcement officials have now deemed the murder a case of mistaken identity.  While he lived in a small, detached house from the main house in front of which he was found dead, there was a marijuana grow operation in the larger structure.  In fact, police believed he was involved with the grow operation at first, but now claim that he was innocent of any connection to it.  Whoever killed him intended to kill someone else.

It is likely he didn’t even know that it existed.  Still, his death resulted in the confiscation of upward of 250 marijuana plants and various other indications that the house was a grow house (like bright lights and irrigation systems).  No arrests have been made thus far in connection with the case, but police are worried that whoever was after the grow house operators will return now that they know they killed the wrong guy.

Leaving this heartbreaking incident aside for the moment, it is important to note exactly what the penalties are, according to California law, for illegally cultivating marijuana.  CA Health and Safety Code 11358 covers the marijuana cultivation laws in the state, all of which have harsh penalties unless associated with legal, medical marijuana cultivation considerations.  For example, you could end up incarcerated for any number of marijuana-related behaviors, planting marijuana, harvesting marijuana, and drying or processing marijuana just to name a few.  To be clear, marijuana cultivation is always considered a felony offense in California.  Even if you are being jailed for the first time in relation to a violation of the above law, you could spend up to 3 years in county jail.  Of course, there are exceptions to the rule.  For example, you could have only grown enough marijuana for personal use or are a nonviolent offender (first or second offense); in these circumstances, a good attorney might be able to negotiate a lesser charge, like that of drug treatment.

That person or persons responsible for the death of John Doe will have more to answer for than simple marijuana cultivation charges, however, if they are caught.  Police report that the marijuana plants they removed from the San Leandro grow house were worth about $60,000 on the street.