RICHARDS v. WISCONSIN

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
96-5955
Petitioner 
Richards
Respondent 
Wisconsin
Advocates
(On behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
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Facts of the Case 

Police in Madison, Wisconsin, suspected Steiney Richards of drug possession, but failed to receive a magistrate's authorization for a "no-knock" entry into his hotel room. Instead, they obtained a conventional search warrant requiring them to knock on Richards' door and identify themselves as officers prior to resorting to forcible entry. After arriving on the scene, an officer knocked on Richards' door identifying himself as a hotel custodian. When Richards opened the door, he saw a uniformed officer and quickly slammed it shut. The officers broke through the door, grabbed Richards while trying to escape, and found cocaine and cash in his bathroom. At trial, Richards challenged the constitutionality of the officer's search but was denied. On appeal, Wisconsin's Supreme Court affirmed and the Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Question 

Did the officers' use of deception and force, in order to gain entry into Richards' hotel room, violate the Fourth Amendment's protection against illegal search and seizures?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Wisconsin, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 4: Fourth Amendment

No. After noting the general importance of following conventional "knock-and- announce" procedures, the Court held that in those circumstances when police have good reason to suspect that announcing their presence and intentions may be dangerous, futile, or result in the destruction of evidence, a "no-knock" entry is justified. The Court added that by immediately closing the door after witnessing the officers outside it, Richards gave police sufficient justification for breaking into his room - especially considering the disposable nature of the substances they were seeking.

Cite this Page
RICHARDS v. WISCONSIN. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 21 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_96_5955>.
RICHARDS v. WISCONSIN, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_96_5955 (last visited October 21, 2014).
"RICHARDS v. WISCONSIN," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_96_5955.