South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Feds Can X-Ray Commercial Shipments Without Warrants If No Privacy Expected
Description Appeals court held that a defendant had no expectation of privacy when he shipped cash by Federal Express since the package instructions stated not to ship cash and that the packages could be opened for inspection at any time. The company could allow government agents to x-ray packages without warrants to gather evidence.
Topic Criminal Law
Key Words Privacy; Search; Right of Inspection; Tax Fraud
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Young obtained a certificate that enabled him to buy fuel tax-free because he said he was going to run a commercial ship fuel business in Florida. He never ran the business, but used his certificate to buy fuel tax free that he then resold, cash only, to various retailers. An IRS agent, suspecting what was going on, without a warrant, got Federal Express to let him x-ray packages that Young was sending, which confirmed that cash was being sent. The agent then got a search warrant to open the packages. Young was convicted. He appealed, contending that the IRS agent improperly searched the Fed Ex packages.
Decision

Affirmed. Young had no legitimate expectation of privacy in the packages of cash he sent by Fed Ex. The carrier’s envelopes say, “Do not send cash” and state that the company may open and inspect packages at any time. Fed Ex, having the right to inspect packages, could allow the IRS, without a warrant, to search a package. Since Young had been notified that he had no right of privacy, he cannot complain of such searches.

Citation U.S. v. Young, --- F.3d --- (2003 WL 22714990, 11th Cir., 2003)

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