authorized employee of the dead letter office may open any letter not addressed to
himself without a search warrant.
The authority of military commanders does not apply to mail that is still in the
postal channels. Once the mail has been delivered, it becomes personal property.
If it is located in an area of military jurisdiction, it is subject to seizure in
any legal manner.
On the other hand, mail that has not yet entered the postal
channels remains the personal property of the sender and is subject to search even
In dealing with mail, coordination with the US postal inspectors who
have authority over US mail is advised.
Any person who conducts an unreasonable or illegal search is
subject to criminal prosecution and civil action for damages.
The penalty under
the US Code is a fine of not more than
,000 for a first offense.
person is criminally liable only for intentional violations. A person who commits
a subsequent offense can be fined
,000, imprisoned for not more than one year, or
Seizures Seizure denotes the taking of property by an authorized person.
property should be submitted to the appropriate authority for legal use
disposition. The property might include the following:
Warrant for Making Seizures.
A warrant for the seizure of property outside a
military installation is issued to civil law enforcement officers or agencies by
the civil authority having jurisdiction.
Once again, as in searches, MP do not
execute such a warrant.
But when directed, they will accompany civil police
executing the warrant. This is done to identify the property to be seized.
The authority of the military commander to conduct a seizure is relative to a
person who is subject to the UCMJ.
this authority does not extend beyond the military installation.
When mail is in postal channels, its seizure is beyond the'
authority of any commander officer; however, a warrant to seize such mail may be
issued. The warrant must be issued by a judge, the US court, or a US magistrate
within the district where the property is located.
The orders of commanding
officer may not be substituted for a search warrant while the mail is in postal
channels. This includes Army postal channels.
When the mail is delivered to the addressee it becomes personal property. If it is
located in an area under the jurisdiction of a commanding officer, it is subject to