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Page Title: Probable Cause Searches Without Prior Authorization
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exigencies  of  the  situation  require  an  immediate determination of probable cause, with no time to use the form, make a record of all facts used and actions taken as  soon  as  possible  after  the  events  have  occurred. Finally, probable cause must be determined by the person who is asked to authorize the search without regard to the prior conclusions of others on the question to be answered. No  conclusion  of  the  authorizing official should ever be based on a conclusion of some other  person  or  persons. The determination that probable cause exists can be arrived at only by the officer  charged  with  that  responsibility, E X E C U T I O N    O F THE SEARCH AUTHORIZATION—  Mil.R.Evid.  315(h)  provides that a search authorization or warrant should be served upon the person whose property is to be searched if that person  is  present.    Further,  the  persons  who  actually perform the search should compile an inventory of items seized and should give a copy of the inventory to the person  whose  property  is  seized.  If  searches  are  carried out in foreign countries, the rule provides that actions should  conform  to  any  existing  international agreements.  Failure  to  comply  with  these  provisions, however, will not necessarily render the items involved inadmissible at a trial by court-martial, Probable Cause Searches Without Prior Authorization As discussed earlier, there are two basic categories of searches that can be lawful if properly executed. Our discussion to this point has centered on those types of searches that require prior authorization. We will now discuss those categories of searches that have been recognized  as  exceptions  to  the  general  rule  requiring authorization  before  the  search.  Recall  that  within  this category  of  searches  there  are  searches  requiring probable cause and searches not requiring probable cause. Exigency Searches This type of search is permitted by Mil.R.Evid. 315(g)   under   circumstances   demanding   some immediate action to prevent removal or disposal of property   believed,   on   reasonable   grounds,   to   be evidence  of  a  crime. Although the exigencies may permit a search to be made without the requirement of a  search  authorization,  the  same  amount  of  probable cause  required  for  search  authorizations  must  be  found to   justify   an   intrusion   based   on   exigency.   Prior authorization is not required under Mil.R.Evid. 315(g) for  a  search  based  upon  probable  cause  under  the following  circumstances: Insufficient  time—No  authorization  need  be obtained  where  there  is  probable  cause  to  search  and there is a reasonable belief that the time required to obtain an authorization would result in the removal, destruction,  or  concealment  of  the  property  or evidence sought. Although both military and civilian case law, in the past, have applied this doctrine almost exclusively to automobiles, it now seems possible that this exception may be a basis for entry into barracks and apartments in situations where drugs are being used. The Court of Military Appeals found that an OOD,  when  confronted  with  the  unmistakable  odor  of burning  marijuana  outside  the  accused’s  barracks room,  acted  correctly  when  he  demanded  entry  to  the room and placed all occupants under apprehension without  first  obtaining  the  CO’s  authorization  for  his entry.  The  fact  that  he  heard  shuffling  inside  the room, and was on an authorized tour of living spaces, was considered crucial, as well as the fact that the unit was overseas. The court felt that this was a present danger  to  the  military  mission,  and  thus  military necessity  warranted  immediate  action. Lack of communication—Action is permitted in cases where probable cause exists and destruction, concealment,  or  removal  is  a  genuine  concern,  but communication  with  an  appropriate  authorizing  official is   prevented   by   reasons   of   military   operational necessity. For instance, where a nuclear submarine, or a Marine Corps unit in the field maintaining radio silence lacks a proper authorizing official (perhaps due to some disqualification on neutrality grounds), no search  would  otherwise  be  possible  without  breaking the  silence  and  perhaps  endangering  the  unit  and  its mission. Search of operable vehicles—This type of search is  based  upon  the  United  States  Supreme  Court’s creation  of  an  exception  to  the  general  warrant requirement  where  a  vehicle  is  involved.  Two  factors are   controlling. First,  a  vehicle  may  easily  be removed  from  the  jurisdiction  if  a  warrant  or authorization were necessary; and second, the court recognizes  a  lesser  expectation  of  privacy  in automobiles. In the military, the term  vehicle includes vessels, aircraft, and tanks, as well as automobiles, trucks, and so on. If probable cause exists to stop and search a vehicle, then authorities may search the entire vehicle and any containers found therein in which the suspected item might reasonably be found. All this can  be  done  without  an  authorization. It  is  not 4-16

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