DEA can seek utility records without warrant

The federal government can obtain suspected marijuana growers' utility records without a warrant.


The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled in the case of a Fairbanks utility, Golden Valley Electric Association, which refused turning over records to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.


The  DEA issued a subpoena in 2010 seeking the power consumption and payment records of three customers suspected of growing marijuana.


The utility declined, citing its policy to protect customer's records. A U.S. District judge ruled in DEA's favor, and the utility appealed.


GVEA argued the Fourth Amendment protects customers from search and seizure without a proper warrant.


But the appeals court ruled a customer lacks an expectation of privacy in an item, like a business record.