Consequences for Military Deserters

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Being in the military is a big responsibility. Each individual servicemember contributes to the overall safety of the group. This is why the military takes desertion so seriously. Desertion occurs when a servicemember abandons their post or duty without receiving proper permission to do so. When someone is found guilty of desertion, there are consequences.

The act of desertion is very serious and can result in many penalties, all the way up to capital punishment for those who desert during times of war. A court-martial is responsible for deciding upon a proper penalty. 

What is Desertion?

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), desertion is defined as when a member of the armed forces:

  1. Fails to be present at his or her duty plate, unit, or organization at the designated time (with the intention of being away permanently);
  2. Leaves a duty place, unit, or organization to avoid certain services or tasks (such as combat deployment); and/or
  3. Fails to separate from the U.S. military but enlists in another foreign armed force. 

If a servicemember attempts to desert but fails to do so, he or she can still be found guilty of desertion and must face the consequences. A servicemember can also be found guilty of desertion if he or she provides a resignation and quits prior to receiving notice that this has been accepted. If a service member is AWOL (absent without leave) for a period of 30 days, he or she is considered to have deserted even if this was not his or her intention. 

Penalties for Desertion

The penalties for desertion depend upon the specific facts and circumstances of each individual case. If a servicemember deserts but then returns on his or her own, the military may decide on the following penalties:

  • Forfeiture of pay
  • Reduction to the lowest enlisted grade
  • Two-year confinement
  • Dishonorable discharge.

If a servicemember deserts but then terminates the desertion due to punishments for deserting and then terminating the desertion due to worry he or she may face the aforementioned penalties but also confinement for three years.

Servicemembers who desert with the intent to avoid hazardous duty, deployment, or other important service may face the aforementioned penalties but also confinement for five years. 

Those servicemembers who desert during wartime may face:

  • Life in prison
  • Capital punishment
  • Other penalties decided by a court-martial

The Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC Helps Military Members in Colorado Who Have Been Charged with a Crime

The U.S. Government has an interest in obtaining a conviction as soon as possible, as it does not wish to gain negative publicity about one of its service members. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced military attorney as soon as possible. If you are a military service member and have been charged with a crime under the UCMJ, the Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC can help. We proudly serve our military members, who sacrifice so much for our country. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

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