Column

Title: Reasonable transaction District Attorney:

Written by: André Beckers

In February 2015 there was a gas leak on the main floor of a house. The owner of this apartment had realised that there was a possibility that the gas had reached the apartment above him. He rang the doorbell of his tenant living above him. The tenant wasn’t home. Because of safety issues, the owner had accessed the apartment with the help of a plumber. To his surprise he saw two tents. In these tents he saw a cannabis cultivation site. He called the police. In the first tent 49 cannabis plants were found. In the second tent 43 cannabis plants were found. In both tents there were 4 assimilation lamps. Research had shown that the electricity had been obtained illegally. A drying rack was found with the tops of the plants that were drying. In a salad oil jar the police found a number of scissors. The police also found bin bags filled with soil and the remains of roots. Also an used and filthy carbon filter was found. What might be the last straw, was that the police found a calendar with handwritten notes. Notes such as “first week”, “repotting” and “first week flourish” seemed to relate to cultivation of cannabis. The notes went as far back as week 52 in 2013. Had the tenant been cultivating since that time? It was possible.
My client was invited by the police to make a statement. Prior to making his statement he asked me for advice. I explained that he had the right to remain silent to all the questions that were asked. Remaining silent becomes more difficult if the police are having a friendly conversation with you. If you talk about your personal and social circumstances, you start to bond with the police officer. Remaining silent by not answering questions that matter, will feel as if you are being rude. After hearing my advice my client decided not to make a statement.
It wasn’t until June 2017 that my client heard from the District Attorney’s office again. That is unreasonably long. My client received a friendly request for a conversation with the District Attorney. He wrote that there was a possibility that my client would be offered community service or a fine. It was also pointed out that there was a possibility that he would have to pay for damages and that he might have to pay an amount of money. Together we went to the courthouse. The District Attorney let us in. He asked my client if he was prepared to settle the criminal lawsuit. If that wasn’t the case, a discussion wouldn’t be of any added value and a hearing in front of a judge would be necessary. I explained that my client had been living in suspense for so long that he wanted to have closure. The District Attorney was friendly and understanding. He wanted to know why my client had started cultivating and how things were with him at the moment. It was a pleasant conversation. He seemed sincerely interested in the personal circumstances of my client. The District Attorney asked me if I had thought of a possible outcome. I had. I suggested that the case would be dismissed if my client would pay € 3.000,-. This amount would include a fine and the illegally obtained profit. The District Attorney went along with this proposal. A police conviction was drafted and my client signed it. With this reasonable transaction the criminal suit against my client had come to an end. In theory the District Attorney’s office is one unit. In the daily practice no two district attorneys are the same.
Translated by Joanna McKernan. Joanna works as a Lawyer for the law firm Beckers & Bergmans in Sittard. She is a native English speaker. Joanna has a lot of experience in cannabis related civil cases.

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