Search must be limited to the person apprehended.
Scope of the search must meet legal requirements.
After an apprehension, the law permits an authorized person to conduct a search without obtaining an
authorization to search. The search incident to apprehension has specific limitations. The major limitation is that
the area of search can include only the area in the immediate control of the person. The area of immediate control
is defined as the area within the "grasp" or "lunge" of the offender.
Beyond the "lunge" area, the "apprehension" alone will not justify a search. This was upheld in Chimel v.
California, 395 U.S. 752 (1969). If other circumstances give rise to a need to search beyond the "lunge" limits,
MP should look to other theories of search and seizure to accomplish their task. Other theories of search and
Probable cause plus exigent circumstances searches.
These theories of search and seizure may allow a search beyond the "lunge" limits.
However, you should remember that the courts prefer that MP secure a search authorization rather than search
immediately. This means that MP should take the extra investigative time and effort to obtain search
authorizations if they want to extend the limits of their search. The following examples are provided for
PVT Dowrong is apprehended for murder on the front steps of his quarters.
The apprehending MP suspects the murder weapon is in PVT Dowrong's secured wall locker. After apprehending
PVT Dowrong, the MP searches PVT Dowrong's person. Finding no weapons, the apprehending MP goes into
Dowrong's barracks, opens Dowrong's wall locker and proceeds to search.
Is this a legal search? Under the law relating to searches incident to apprehension, the person of PVT Dowrong
could be searched. Since the wall locker was not within the reach of PVT Dowrong, it could not legally be
included in the search.