LOCATION: Wisconsin Eastern U.S. District Courthouse
DOCKET NO.: 86-5324
LOWER COURT: Wisconsin Supreme Court
CITATION: 483 US 868 (1987)
ARGUED: Apr 20, 1987
DECIDED: Jun 26, 1987
Alan G. Habermehl - on behalf of Petitioner
Barry M. Levenson - on behalf of Respondent
Facts of the case
Joseph Griffin, who had previously been convicted of a felony, was convicted in a Wisconsin state court of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstruction of an officer. He was put on probation. According to Wisconsin law, probationers are in the legal custody of the State Department of Health and Social services and must abide by that department’s rules and regulations of the department. One of the regulations permits the probation officer to search the probationer’s home without a warrant as long as there are “reasonable grounds” to believe illegal substances are in the premises. These grounds include: information provided by an informant, the reliability of that information and the informant, and the officer’s own experience with the probationer.
Griffin’s probation officer received information from a detective that there might be guns in Griffin’s apartment. When the police searched Griffin’s apartment, they found a handgun and Griffin was charged with the felony of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Griffin moved to suppress the evidence obtained in the search. The trial court denied the motion and Griffin was convicted. Griffin appealed on the grounds that the evidence from the search violated the Fourth Amendment. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals and the Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed the conviction.
Does a warrantless search of a probationer’s residence violate the Fourth Amendment if it was conducted on reasonable grounds?