Desertion & AWOL Military Defense Lawyers
What is the Penalty for Desertion or Going AWOL from the Military?
Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), desertion/AWOL is a serious offense that can be punishable by a up to 5 years imprisonment, a dishonorable discharge, and/or forfeiture of all pay from service. If one is found deserting/AWOL during a time of war the punishment could be death.
The United States Armed Forces is the world's second largest military in terms of the number of active duty personnel, and it is an all-volunteer service. Desertion has been an issue for militaries since ancient times, especially for armies and other forces which were comprised primarily of conscripts. Marching armies would often gradually evaporate into the surrounding countryside as unwilling soldiers snuck away from the ranks.
Understanding Article 85 of the UCMJ
Article 85 of the UCMJ makes it unlawful for a service member to leave or remain absent from one's unit, organization or place of duty without authority and with the intent of remaining away permanently. Similarly, it is a breach of Article 85 to quit one's unit with the intent of avoiding hazardous duty or to shirt important services.
Desertion may also be charged in cases where a service member has enlisted or accepted an appointment in another branch of the military or even in the same branch without having been regularly separated from his or her current appointment, as well as to enlist in any foreign armed service. A commissioned officer may be charged with desertion in the event that he or she quits a post or proper duties without leave after having tendered resignation but before receiving notice of its acceptance. The maximum sentence for desertion is the death penalty, though it has been more than half a century since anyone was executed. More commonly, desertion is punished by confinement and punitive discharge.
Experienced AWOL & Desertion Legal Counsel
If you have gone absent without leave or on an unauthorized absence, it is vital that you take action to address the situation before you are arrested. There may be a warrant out in your name, and you could be at risk of being taken into custody if you are pulled over for a traffic violation or under similar circumstances. By tackling the problem head-on, you can improve your chances of a successful outcome.
At McCormack & McCormack, we have assisted countless clients from all branches of the military, and our military criminal defense attorneys are ready to take immediate action on your case. We may be able to resolve the situation without you being taken into custody, and it may be possible to work out a solution which allows you to return to civilian life with an administrative discharge.
Contact us now for a confidential case evaluation to discuss the situation and to learn more about how we can help.