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d. Mistake of law

Traffic stop based on mistake of law upheld

State v. Kyle M. Kleinschmidt, 2020AP881-Cr, 10/13/21, District 3 (1-judge opinion; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs) Kleinschmidt’s vehicle had two brake lights in good working order, but it also had a high-mount brake light that was not working.  An officer stopped him due to the defective light and established that he was operating… Read more

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State v. Richard Rusk, 2019AP135-CR, 8/29/19, District 4 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs) An officer stopped Rusk because he believed that tinting on the windshield of Rusk’s vehicles extended so far down as to violate Wis. Admin § Trans 305.34(6)(c)(May 2014). Rusk argued that this was a mistake of law because the… Read more

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Fond du Lac County v. Isaac Anthony Dahlke, 2017AP1417, District 2, 5/9/18 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs) The stop of Dahlke’s car was unlawful because the officer didn’t have an objectively reasonable belief that Dahlke entered a wayside in violation of an ordinance prescribing hours when the wayside is closed. Dahlke was… Read more

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Village of Bayside v. Ryan Robert Olszewski, 2015AP1033-34; 1/12/15; District 1 (not recommended for publication); case activity, including briefs After Heien v. North Carolina and State v. Houghton, everyone predicted lots of litigation about law enforcement’s “reasonable mistakes of law” during traffic stops. This case marks the beginning of it. Olszewski allegedly stopped his van just… Read more

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United States v. Rodolpho Hernandez Flores, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 15-1515, 8/19/15 (per curiam) Hernandez Flores was stopped for driving with an obstructed license plate because his rear plate was affixed to his car by a standard frame that covered the plate’s periphery. The stop violated the Fourth Amendment because it was based on… Read more

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State v. Kim M. Lerdahl, 2014AP2119-CR, District 3, 8/4/15 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs) In an interesting decision that sheds some light on how to apply the newly-adopted “reasonable mistake of law” doctrine to traffic stops, State v. Houghton, 2015 WI 79, ___ Wis. 2d ___, ___ N.W.2d ___,  the court… Read more

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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

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