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Military Search and Seizure

There are two types of searches in the military, those based on probable cause, and what are called “inspections.” This article will concentrate on what are called probable cause searches. If investigators believe they have probable cause to search you or your property, they will apply to a magistrate (civilian or military depending on where you live) or your command to get a search authorization or warrant. Or, they will ask you to consent to a search. NEVER CONSENT to a search. Frequently a service member will consent to a search of their person or property because the investigators have lied and told them they will get a warrant or authorization. MAKE THEM DO THEIR JOB. If they have probable cause, make them go through the proper steps to get authorization to search. If you consent to a search any evidence seized in that search will be used against you in trial by court-martial.

If you have already consented to a search, or if there has already been a search, don’t give up. I have obtained acquittals in cases where my client consented to a search. But don’t speak to them again, and don’t try to “clear things up” without speaking to me first.

I served six years on active duty in the Army JAG Corps and 16 years in the Army JAG Corps reserves. I served as a prosecutor, defense counsel and as appellate defense counsel. For more than 20 years, I have represented service members of all military branches in courts-martial, appeals of court-martial convictions, military discharge upgrades, administrative separations, security clearance matters, records correction, and all other areas of military law. While my background is with the Army, I have appeared in Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard courts. I am intimately familiar with all the service branches, and the subtle differences from one branch to another. While all courts-martial are governed by the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, there are differences between how each branch operates at court-martial. Mr. Cassara knows those differences. In addition, I have appeared before the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals and the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals. In other words, I have represented members of all services at courts-martial and on appeal of court-martial convictions.

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