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19-Year-Old Faces Life in Prison for Pot Brownies

Though offered a plea deal, Jacob Lavoro could spend the rest of his life in jail if he misses so much as a meeting.

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By Victoria Kim

08/14/14

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A nineteen-year-old man in Texas is facing life in prison on charges of selling brownies made with marijuana and hash oil. Jacob Lavoro was arrested in April after a neighbor complained about the smell of smoke coming from his apartment.

Lavoro was charged with having nearly one and a half pounds of drugs with the intent to sell, a first-degree felony that carries a punishment of 10 years to life in prison.

“I’m scared. Very scared,” said Lavoro. “I’m 19 years old and I still have my whole life ahead of me. Take that into account, and I can do more good than evil.”

According to an arrest affidavit, officers confiscated hash oil in a container, $1,600, and what appeared to be a client list. Following a lab test, it has been confirmed that 145 grams of hash oil were in the jar and just 2.5 grams of THC in the brownies.

Lavoro’s attorney, Jack Holmes, wants the charges reduced to a second-degree felony, which would reduce the punishment to two to 20 years or probation.

The office of the District Attorney has offered Lavoro a plea deal to a reduced felony charge that would involve no jail time if he stayed out of trouble. First Assistant D.A. Mark Brunner claimed prosecutors are not intending to lock up Lavoro in prison for life. But Holmes rejected the offer, worried that prosecutors would be overzealous if Lavoro missed so much as a mandatory meeting.

Holmes is prepared to argue in a key hearing that the charges should be dropped altogether based on whether the search of Lavoro’s apartment was lawful. Holmes said police officers entered the apartment without justification, although the police claim Lavoro’s girlfriend allowed them inside. “That’s going to be a very important hearing because if the judge rules in our favor, the case is over,” Holmes said.

Holmes, a former police officer, said the smell of marijuana would have been enough justification for a search if Lavoro was in a vehicle, but that is not the case for a residence. “They just bowed their way in because they thought they smelled marijuana in the apartment…they had permission right then based on the law, and they’re wrong about that,” Holmes said.

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