Authorization and probable cause
Overview of authorization and probable cause:
A search is valid if based upon probable cause and a proper search warrant. Probable cause is evaluated by looking at the “totality of the circumstances” to determine whether evidence is located at a particular place. In the military, the equivalent to a search warrant is called a search authorization, and may be issued by an appropriate neutral and detached commander, military judge, or military magistrate. Even if a search is based upon probable cause and is conducted pursuant to a proper search warrant/ authorization, it must be conducted in a reasonable manner.
- General Rule. A search is proper if conducted pursuant to a search warrant or authorization based on probable cause. Mil. R. Evid. 315.
- A search warrant is issued by a civilian judge; it must be in writing, under oath, and based on probable cause.
- A search authorization is granted by a military commander; it may be oral or written, need not be under oath, but must be based on probable cause.