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February 2023
Tim Bilecki

Case Result: Mitigating AWOL Consequences

Allegations: AWOL (Absent Without Leave).
Fort Totten, New York
Army | First Lieutenant,O-2
AWOL resolved with GOMOR.

Poor decisions often come with bad consequences in military life, and this is often a right and just order to things. Poor decisions by an officer can lead to unnecessary deaths in combat and when officers are punished for poor decisions in peacetime, perhaps they learn their lesson before the bullets start flying.

In the case of a young Army First Lieutenant, he did indeed make a poor decision by going AWOL and it was natural and just that some punishment was due. However, the circumstances were such that ruining this young man’s life wasn’t proportionate to the crime committed.

Facing a personal emergency, the First Lieutenant panicked and left his post to attend to the matter. When he was contacted by his command, he returned to his duty station with hopes that the command would be understanding given the nature of the emergency.

They were not and it appeared that they were gearing up to let the UCMJ have its way with the young man. Fortunately, he contacted AWOL defense lawyer Tim Bilecki and we immediately began drafting up a plan to mitigate the consequences of his hasty decision.

Bilecki was able to keep the case from escalating to a court martial and was able to have the case resolved at a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand (GOMOR) level. Bilecki drafted rebuttal materials that focused on the First Lieutenant’s acceptance of responsibility and his commitment to learn from the incident.

The result was that the GOMOR was permanently filed, but there would be no court martial and the young Lieutenant would learn the lesson of a lifetime. It is a lesson that we hope he took with him through the rest of his military career and can perhaps coach other service members from making the same mistake

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