Military Desertion Charges
Absent Without Leave (AWOL) and Desertion Are Serious Allegations With Serious Sentencing
AWOL and desertion cases are never simple. On the face of it are the charges: the court martial, possible imprisonment, punitive discharge.
But beneath the surface lies a complicated context of justification, where traumatic events, medications, and psychological or familial situations undermine a service member’s ability to act in a manner consistent with what the military wants and expects.
By combining aggressive representation with compassionate guidance, our team can help mitigate or avoid many of the serious repercussions of desertion, AWOL or unauthorized absence from service.
AWOL and Desertion - It's a Matter of Intent
While to terms AWOL and desertion are often interchanged, there are significant differences between the two:
- Desertion is a departure of a service member from his military duties with the intent to remain away permanently. If the government believes that the accused had the intent, at any point, to remain away permanently and not return to the military—especially in the case of deployment—then the government will typically charge desertion.
- AWOL, on the other hand, may be an involuntary absence caused by any number of reasons. Cases where the defense can prove that their client was AWOL, and didn’t intend to remain away permanently or desert the military, are often met with successful results.
The goal of any defense attorney in a desertion case is typically to attack the “intent” element that the prosecution is trying to make. Doing so can spell the difference between a conviction and an acquittal, or between a slap on the wrist and years of confinement.
If you’re currently AWOL or have been charged with AWOL or desertion, then finding an attorney who can obtain the necessary evidence and present it to either the command, the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, or a military jury is essential. These matters can range from a misunderstanding regarding the duty location requirements, to needing to go home to take care of a sick family member, to having fundamental medical and mental health issues that caused the absence.