Defending Those Who Defend Us®

AWOL & Desertion Defense

Absence without leave (Article 86) and Desertion (Article 85) are serious UCMJ violations that can have lifelong consequences if not addressed immediately. Absence without leave (AWOL) occurs when a servicemember fails to go to his appointed place of duty or simply leaves his unit for a period of time. Desertion, on the other hand, occurs when a servicemember remains absent from his unit with the intent to remain away permanently. 

The maximum punishment for AWOL increases based on the length of absence and how the absence is terminated. For example, the maximum punishment for “failure to go” is confinement for 1 month and forfeiture of two-thirds pay for 1 month.  In contrast, an unauthorized absence for more than 30 days can result in a dishonorable discharge, total forfeitures, and confinement for 1 year. Desertion terminated by apprehension carries up to 3 years confinement or, in time of war, death. 

For a servicemember who has gone AWOL or deserted, returning to the military may seem like a daunting task. While ending an unauthorized absence never gets easier, you don’t have go it alone. MJA has decades of experience representing servicemembers charged with AWOL and desertion and understands that significant extenuating and mitigating circumstances often accompany a long-term unauthorized absence. Upon returning to military custody, it is critical that servicemembers be provided with immediate physical and mental health treatment and have an advocate in their corner who will fight for them. 

If you are facing charges of AWOL or desertion or are currently AWOL and thinking of turning yourself in, call our office today at (844) 334-5459 for a free consultation.