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Ruling upholds convictions based on warrantless search

Police officer wathcingAn Arizona court has upheld a woman’s marijuana convictions based on a warrantless search conducted when sheriff’s deputies were sent to a home in response to a 911 “hang-up” call that was treated as an emergency.

The Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected Starr Bennett’s argument that Yavapai County deputies violated her constitutional rights by entering an enclosed patio and observing marijuana plants at a Paulden-area home.

The court said a legal doctrine allowing warrantless searches in order to provide emergency aid allowed the search because the Sheriff’s Office treated 911 hang-ups as emergencies and because the call supposedly came from the home.

The call actually came from a cellphone at another location, but the court said the deputies had no reason to suspect they were at the wrong address.

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