- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) - The Idaho Court of Appeals has overturned a woman’s possession of drugs conviction after find the Nampa police detained her based on a “hunch” that she committed a crime.

The court on Thursday ruled in favor of 31-year-old Natasha Bly, who was arrested in 2014 after police believed there was drug activity happening in a hotel she entered, according to The Idaho Press-Tribune (https://bit.ly/1Ppmila). An officer stopped her and found methamphetamine in her possession.

Bly pleaded guilty in October 2014, but reserved her right to appeal.

Bly’s appeal stated that the drug was discovered as a result of unlawful detainment.

According to the court’s decision, the arrest came after the officer was patrolling near the hotel and ran a license plate of a car parked legally in the hotel’s parking lot. The car’s owner was a man with an active drug-related warrant.

The officer unsuccessfully tried to find the owner of the car inside the hotel. Later, after seeing other people go inside the hotel and come out shortly after, Bly came out and moved the car the officer had been watching. The officer asked Bly to “hold on a minute” and approached, noticing she smelled like marijuana.

District court found that Bly’s detention was reasonable when the officer told her to “hold on a minute,” but appellate court judges disagreed.

Appellate judges said that Bly’s presence in a high-crime area and her proximity to people suspected of criminal activity, without more, is not enough to detain her. According to the opinion, the officer had no evidence that any of the people at the hotel were connected.

“His belief that they were somehow related was nothing more than a hunch based on proximity,” according to the opinion about the officer.


Information from: Idaho Press-Tribune, https://www.idahopress.com

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