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When is the 4th Amendment Applied? – Information from Utility and Phone Companies

The Fourth Amendment protects the rights of United States citizens from unlawful searches and seizures. The Fourth Amendment is invoked when the right to privacy has been violated. In some instances, an individual has an expectation of privacy; sometimes, an expectation of privacy is not applicable.

An individual does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in utility company records. In People v. Dunkin (1994), an investigation was being conducted on a marijuana grower. As part of the investigation, officers requested the electricity records for the defendant’s home. These records showed an abnormally high amount of electricity being used, providing probable cause for the growth of marijuana within the home. A court held a person does not have an expectation of privacy in their utility company’s records. Thus, there was not a Fourth Amendment violation.

In re Application of United States for Historical Cell Cite Data (2013) articulated that information from a phone company regarding cell cite information is a business record and thus there is no expectation of privacy. However, it is still uncertain whether a search warrant is necessary in obtaining the location of a cell phone.

St. Louis, Missouri, Search & Seizure Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been product of an unlawful search and seizure or have questions regarding what stands for a reasonable search and seizure, our attorney can help. Call Henderson Law Group to schedule a free consultation 24/7.