If you have been accused of abandoning your post, it is essential to reach out to our Honolulu-based desertion and AWOL lawyer 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. Because our attorney is a former military member, he understands what you may be going through and could build your defense.
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.
Building a defense for AWOL or desertion charges 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 is a real and invasive medical condition within the military community, and it often comes into play in desertion cases. Our experienced attorney who is based in Honolulu could help any military service member across the world build a defense that is most effective for a particular desertion or AWOL case.
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.
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.
Circumstances matter in an AWOL charge and sentence. A service member can lose pay or rank or serve a few months of confinement. This will greatly depend on the reason for the absence.
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.
If you are accused of an unauthorized absence, the time to act is now. These cases are often time-sensitive, and it is crucial to reach out to a Honolulu-based desertion and AWOL lawyer as soon as possible. Call today for a private consultation.