Bugging doesn’t violate the fourth amendment when one of the parties consents


Roy Kim Price was in the Lowndes County Jail on cocaine possession charges and with assault and burglary charges pending against him when he went to Officers Kevin Petrie and Joey Brackin, both narcotics officers, offering to assist them in narcotics cases if they would assist him on the pending charges against him.

Price proposed to the agents that he would set up a sale of narcotics by Jose Casas, and the officers gave him the opportunity. In exchange for Price’s help, the officers evidently were instrumental in getting one of the charges against Price retired to the files and in getting Price’s sentence on the other charge to run concurrently with the sentences he already had received.

In 1994, Price and the officers went to Price’s house, where Price placed a call to Casas in Texas. Over a three day period about twelve such calls were made with Officer Petrie dialing Casas’s telephone number. During that time period, Casas placed some calls to Price. Price had spoken with Casas on prior occasions, and he recognized Casas’s voice. Officers Petrie and Brackin stayed at Price’s house during this time period, and they recorded the telephone conversations.

During these conversations, Price and Casas discussed the details of Casas’s bringing marijuana and cocaine to Columbus, Mississippi including the date of delivery and the purchase price. Price identified the tape recordings and the transcripts of the telephone conversations, which were admitted into evidence and played for the jury.

The arrangement between Price and Casas was that Casas would mail ten pounds of marijuana and five ounces of cocaine to Price; Casas would then come to Columbus on the bus to get his money.

A few days later, the officers met Casas’s bus at the station in Columbus and saw Casas getting off the bus and placing a call to Price’s house. The officers then arrested Casas on suspicion of drug trafficking. The drugs, which were addressed to Price, arrived two days later in Columbus (9.58 pounds of marijuana and 4.9 ounces of cocaine).

Casas was convicted of transfer of marijuana and cocaine and sentenced to 18 years. On appeal, he argued the tapes should have been suppressed. MCOA affirmed.


Casas argued that law enforcement officials must apply for a court order authorizing the interception of oral communication in connection with the investigation of crimes.

In Everett v. State, 248 So. 2d 439 (Miss. 1971), the MSC held that electronic surveillance, bugging, does not tread upon the constitutional rights of the Fourth Amendment when the consent of one of the parties is first obtained. The expectation of privacy, though perhaps shaken by the mistaken belief that a person to whom one voluntarily confides will not reveal the conversation does not reach constitutional proportions.

Price consented to the officers eavesdropping on the conversations; therefore, the agents did not have to seek a court order to record the exchange between Casas and Price. As was pointed out in Everett, one contemplating illegal activities must realize the risk that his companions may be reporting to the police. Considering the circumstance, Casas’s defense counsel would have no ground to object to the audiotapes as evidence.