Saturday, November 2, 2013

Welsh v. Wisconsin case brief

Welsh v. Wisconsin case brief summary
466 U.S. 740 (1984)

In this case the court granted ceriorari to review a decision made by the Supreme Court of the state of Wisconsin which convicted the defendant on a non-jailable traffic offense.
The defendant claimed that the police violated the 4th Amendment of the Constitution by making a warrentless night entry into his home in order to arrest him.

The defendant was arrested at night in his house for operating a motor vehicle while he was intoxicated.
This was a non-jailable offense in Wisconsin.
The arresting officers did not possess an arrest warrant.
The defendant was taken to the police station.
The defendant refused to take a breath-analysis test.
The trial court concluded that the defendant's arrest was lawful and that the defendant's refusal to take the breath test was not reasonable and was in violation of state law.
As a result, the trial court suspended the defendant's operating license (driver's license).
The suspension order was vacated by a state appeals court, but the highest state court reinstated the suspension order.

  • The court in this case granted certiorari and reversed and remanded the lower court, holding that the arrest of the defendant in his home without a warrant violated the IVth Amendment of the Constitution because the state had not established the existence of exigent circumstances. 
  • The state, however, did have probable cause to arrest, but it was not enough.
  • The petitioner's refusal to submit to a breath test was reasonable.
  • The court also noted that the application of the exigent-circumstances exception in the context of a home entry was rarely appropriate when there is probable cause to believe that only a minor offense had been committed.
    The court vacated the findings of the lower court and remanded, holding that the arrest of the defendant without a warrant in his home was in violation of the IVth Amendment because the state had not established the existence of exigent circumstances.

    Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
    Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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