What punishment do you get for going awol?
If you have been accused of abandoning your post, it is essential to reach out to us as soon as possible to help. There are countless reasons for an unauthorized absence. You may be going through a layered and complex life event. You may be suffering psychological harm from duty. You may feel alone and anxious. Whatever the reason for the absence, a desertion charge is profoundly serious. The maximum authorized punishment for AWOL ranges from one month to 18 months confinement. The authorized punishment for Desertion increases to life imprisonment, and the death penalty if committed during a time of war.
What is the Difference Between Desertion and AWOL?
The distinction in the charges of desertion and AWOL is how long the individual intended to be absent. AWOL stands for “absence without leave” and typically refers to a service member who is not present where they are required to be but has the intent to return at some point.
Desertion is a much more severe charge. If an individual is accused of desertion, it means that not only are they not where they are supposed to be, but they also have no intention of returning to their post. This issue becomes even more complex and serious if the service member’s absence caused them to miss a significant move such as deployment. The legal term for this is “desertion with intent to avoid hazardous duty or shirk important service.” The worst charge related to unauthorized absence is desertion during time of war, where the death penalty, and life without the possibility of parole are authorized.
What Can I do if I’ve been charged with AWOL or Desertion?
First, we need to build a defense for AWOL or desertion charges and that starts with evaluating why the absence allegedly occurred. If there was an acceptable reason or mitigating circumstances, the charge could be reduced to a less serious offense than if the individual chose to go AWOL. For example, if a service member leaves for a family emergency, they may receive more leniency than if they became intoxicated and left town for a party.
There may also be a defense made for mental instability or trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a real and invasive medical condition within the military community, and it often comes into play in desertion cases. We have the experience with these cases to help any military service member across the world build a defense that is most effective for a particular desertion or AWOL case.
If you’ve been charged for desertion or awol, don’t wait. Call Us Immediately!
Consequences of Desertion or AWOL Charges.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice outlines sentencing guidelines for charges related to an unauthorized absence. Our Honolulu-based lawyer could help someone mitigate the potential consequences of a desertion or AWOL charge.
UCMJ Article 87 – Missing Movement
Article 87 relates to a service member intentionally or neglectfully missing a significant move such as a deploying ship or unit. If it can be proven that the accused missed the movement on purpose, they could face two years of confinement and a dishonorable discharge. Neglect can be a year of confinement and a bad conduct discharge.
UCMJ Article 86 – AWOL
Circumstances matter in an AWOL charge and sentence. A service member can lose pay or rank or serve up to 18 months of confinement. This will greatly depend on the reason for the absence.
UCMJ Article 85 – Desertion
The UCMJ addresses desertion, particularly in a time of war, as a heinous crime. If the service member is convicted in a time of war, they can face life in prison or even the death penalty. If it is not a time of war, a desertion charge can still carry a sentence of five years and a dishonorable discharge.
We know what is at stake, and we want to help you keep your life intact. Call today to set up your personal consultation.