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Wilson v. Arkansas

Set Up, A Fourth Amendment Violation?, Common Law, Mitigating Circumstances, Impact


Sharlene Wilson


State of Arkansas

Petitioner's Claim

That failure of the police to knock and announce their presence prior to a warranted search rendered their entry into her house unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

John Wesley Hall, Jr.

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Kent C. Holt, Arkansas Assistant Attorney General

Justices for the Court

Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, David H. Souter, John Paul Stevens, Clarence Thomas (writing for the Court)

Justices Dissenting



Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

22 May 1995


Reversed the decision of the Arkansas State Supreme Court and remanded the case for reconsideration by the trial court, holding that police in possession of a search warrant are justified in entering a person's house without knocking at the door and announcing their presence only in cases where they may be put in danger or stand to lose evidence by doing so.


The ruling reverses a tendency of the Court in to allow law enforcement authorities great latitude for action within Fourth Amendment guidelines. While recognizing this, it is significant that the Court remanded this case to the trial court for reconsideration under its ruling rather than reversing the lower court's decision altogether.

Related Cases

  • Miller v. United States, 357 U.S. 301 (1958).
  • Ker v. California, 374 U.S. 23 (1963).
  • Sabbath v. United States, 391 U.S. 585 (1968).
  • Richards v. Wisconsin, 520 U.S. 385 (1997).

Further Readings

  • Biskupic, Joan, and Elder Witt, eds. Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court, 3rd ed. Washington DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1990.
  • Legal Information Institute and Project Hermes. http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/94 5707.ZS.html.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1995 to Present