Wilson v. Arkansas

Wilson v. Arkansas

United States Supreme Court
514 U.S. 927 (1995)

ISSUE: Does an officer have to knock and announce his presence before kicking in a door to a house for which he has a valid search or arrest warrant?
HOLDING: Maybe -- K&A is a factor in the reasonableness requirement.
FACTS:
  • D made a series of narcotics sales to a police informant, and then the informant purchased marijuana and meth at D's house
  • Informant then set up a meeting with D at a local store, and D, after threating the informant with a gun, sold the informant marijuana
  • Police obtained search and arrest warrants
  • Police opened a screen door and entered while they announced their presence
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
  • Trial Ct. denied suppression motion
  • Arkansas Sup. Ct. affirmed
RULES:
  • Semayne's Case: Sheriff may break down a door to a house in the execution of a warrant, but he must signify that he is coming and make a request to open the doors
REASONING:
  • Knock-and-Announce rule apart of American law: In some circumstances, an officer's unannounced entry into a home might be unreasonable under the 4th Amdt.
    • Not every entry must be announced, however
    • Some exceptions:
      • Under circumstances presenting a threat of physical violence
      • Where officers are apprehending an escaped prisoner
      • Where police have reason to believe that evidence would be likely destroyed if advance notice was given
  • May be justified in present case: Threatening the informant with a gun and the prior history of arson and firebombing might provide justification for the unannounced entry, but that issue is for remand

 

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