Law School Case Brief
Richards v. Wisconsin - 520 U.S. 385, 117 S. Ct. 1416 (1997)
The knock-and-announce requirement may give way under circumstances presenting a threat of physical violence, or where police officers have reason to believe that evidence would likely be destroyed if advance notice were given.
Police officers in Madison, Wisconsin obtained a warrant to search defendant Steiney Richards' hotel room for drugs and related paraphernalia. The warrant requested was one that would have authorized for a "no-knock" entry into hotel room, but those portions were explicitly deleted by the issuing authority. The police officers did not knock and announce prior to entry into Richards' room; drugs nd cash were seized. At trial in Wisconsin state court, Richards filed a motion to exclude the drugs and cash found in the hotel room based on the officers' failure to knock and announce before entering the hotel room. The trial denied the motion, and on Richards' appeals, an appellate court and the state supreme court affirmed. Richards was granted a writ of certiorari.
Was the officers' entry into Richards' hotel room before knocking and announcing their presence violative of Richards' Fourth Amendment rights?
The Supreme Court of the United States court affirmed the lower courts' judgment because the officers' decision not to knock-and-announce was reasonable under the circumstances of the case. In order to justify a "no-knock" entry, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing their presence, under the particular circumstances, would be dangerous or futile, or that it would inhibit the effective investigation of the crime by, for example, allowing the destruction of evidence. However, the Court ruled that the state supreme court's blanket exception to the knock-and-announce requirement—that police officers were never required to knock and announce their presence when executing a search warrant in a felony drug investigation—was unconstitutional.
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