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Objects of a Search or Seizure - 14134_88
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Deligation of the Power to Authorize Searches
immediate action, and here the reasonable alternative is a  search  without  prior  authorization. Although  this second  category  is  more  closely  scrutinized  by  the courts,  several  valid  approaches  can  produce  admissible evidence. Probable Cause Searches Based Upon Prior Authorization Military  search  authorization—This  type  of  prior authorization search is akin to that described in the text of the Fourth Amendment, but is the express product of Mil.R.Evid.  315.  Although  the  prior  military  law contemplated  that  only  officers  in  command  could authorize  a  search,  Mil.R.Evid.  315  clearly  intends  that the  power  to  authorize  a  search  follows  the  billet occupied  by  the  person  involved  rather  than  being founded  in  rank  or  officer  status.  Thus,  in  those situations  where  senior  noncommissioned  or  petty officers occupy positions as officers in charge (OICs) or positions  similar  to  command,  they  are  generally competent  to  authorize  searches  absent  contrary direction from the Secretary of the Navy. In  the  typical  case,  the  commander  or  other competent military authority, such as an OIC, decides whether  probable  cause  exists  when  issuing  a  search authorization. Although there is no per se exclusion of COs,  courts  will  decide,  on  a  case-by-case  basis, whether a particular commander was in fact neutral and detached.  Mil.R.Evid.  315(d)  provides  that: An  otherwise  impartial  authorizing  official does not lose that character merely because he or she is present at the scene of a search or is otherwise readily available to persons who may seek the issuance of a search authorization; nor does such an official lose impartial character merely  because  the  official  previously  and impartially  authorized  investigative  activities when such previous authorization is similar in intent or function to a pretrial authorization made by the United States district courts. J U R I S D I C T I O N     TO AUTHORIZE SEARCHES.—   Before  any  competent  military authority can lawfully order a search and seizure, he or she must have the authority necessary over both the person and/or place to be searched, and the persons or property to be seized. This authority, or jurisdiction, is most  often  a  dual  concept—jurisdiction  over  the  place and over the person. Any search or seizure authorized by one not having jurisdiction is a nullity, and even though otherwise valid, the fruits of any seizure would not be admissible in a trial by court-martial if objected to  by  the  defense. Jurisdiction Over the Person.— It is critical to any analysis of the authority of the CO over persons to determine whether the person is a civilian or military witness. Civilians— The search of civilians is now permitted under  Mil.R.Evid.  315(c)  when  they  are  present  aboard military   installations. This  gives  the  military commander  an  additional  alternative  in  such  situations where  the  only  possibility  before  the  Mil.R.Evid.  was  to detain that person for a reasonable time while a warrant was  sought  from  the  appropriate  federal  or  state magistrate.  Furthermore,  a  civilian  desiring  to  enter  or exit a military installation maybe subject to a reasonable inspection as a condition precedent to entry or exit. Such inspections have recently been upheld as a valid exercise by the commander of the administrative need for  security  of  military  bases.  Inspections  will  be discussed later in this chapter. Military— MiL.R.Evid. 315 indicates two categories of military persons who are subject to search by the a u t h o r i z a t i o n    o f competent military authority— members of that CO’s unit and others who are subject to military law when in places under that CO’s jurisdiction; for example, aboard a ship or in a command area. There is military case authority for the proposition  that  the  commander’s  power  to  authorize searches  of  members  of  his  or  her  command  goes beyond the requirement of presence within the area of the command, In one case, the court held that a search authorized  by  the  accused’s  CO,  although  actually conducted  outside  the  squadron  area,  was  nevertheless lawful.  Although  this  search  occurred  within  the confines  of  the  Air  Force  base,  a  careful  consideration of the language of Mil.R.Evid. 315(d)(1) indicates that a person subject to military law could be searched even while  outside  the  military  installation.  This  would  hold true only for the search of the person, since personal property, located off base is not under the jurisdiction of the CO if situated in the United States, its territories, or possessions. Jurisdiction Over the Property.— Several  topics must be considered when determining whether a CO can authorize the search of property. It is necessary to decide first if the property is government-owned and, if so, whether it is intended for governmental or private use. If the property is owned, operated, or subject to the control of a military person, its location determines whether a commander may authorize a search or seizure. 4-11

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