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d. Officer’s mistake of law

“Reasonable” mistakes of law

In Heien v. North Carolina, SCOTUS held that an officer’s “reasonable” mistake of law can give rise to the reasonable suspicion needed to justify a traffic.  And SCOW followed suit in State v. Houghton. If you are researching this issue, you might want to take a look at this new case note in Harvard Law… Read more


State v. Richard E. Houghton, 2015 WI 79, 7/14/14, reversing an unpublished court of appeals opinion, 2013AP1581-CR; majority by Prosser, dissent by Abrahamson (joined by Bradley); case activity (including briefs) You’ve seen this before. An officer makes a traffic stop based on a “misunderstanding” of the law, then conducts a search and finds incriminating evidence… Read more

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Review of an unpublished per curiam court of appeals decision; case activity Issue (composed by On Point) Can a police officer’s reasonable mistake of law give rise to reasonable suspicion or probable cause necessary to uphold a seizure under article I, §11 of the Wisconsin constitution? Police stopped Houghton’s car for two reasons: It lacked a front license plate; and the driver’s… Read more


State v. Christopher M. Repenshek, 2004 WI App 229, PFR filed 12/17/04 For Repenshek: Stephen E. Mays Issue/Holding: The test for probable cause is purely objective, so that the arresting officer’s intent to arrest for a crime that is in fact non-existent is irrelevant. Because in Repenshek’s instance probable cause to arrest indisputably existed, his arrest was… Read more


State v. Michael M. Longcore (I), 226 Wis. 2d 1, 594 N.W.2d 412 (Ct. App. 1999), affirmed by equally divided vote, 2000 WI 23, 233 Wis. 2d 278, 607 N.W.2d 620 For Longcore: William E. Schmaal, SPD, Madison Appellate. Issue/Holding: An officer stopped Longcore’s car because his back window had been replaced with a plastic covering… Read more