Being absent or failing to report for duty without authorization is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). These violations are referred to by many different names, including desertion, absent without leave (AWOL) or unauthorized absence (UA).
Though the United States military is today composed of volunteers rather than draftees, desertion remains a problem, and deserters are thus subject to punishment. The punishments imposed can vary greatly. While some deserters avoid prosecution and quickly return to their civilian life, the vast majority face punishments ranging from a less than honorable discharge to time in federal prison. Both your military career and your life after the military can be seriously impacted, so being declared a deserter is not a charge to take lightly.
Military members who have deserted often don’t know where to go, what to say, or how to report. We help our clients make these decisions, which are important because once you have been declared a deserter the military issues a warrant for your arrest. Whether you are arrested or turn yourself in, and where, can make a huge difference in how and where you are detained.
Once you are in military custody, you are going to face some sort of disciplinary hearing, typically a court-martial. Having an experienced civilian military attorney that is familiar with military law at your side can be beneficial – we’ve been through this before and we know what steps should be taken next to ensure you have the best chance of preserving your rights and your freedom.
While there are essentially no legal defenses to desertion, the first words out of our mouth when we work with you as a client will not be “plead guilty.” All too often that is the advice given to service members, even by the military council tasked with defending them. While pleading guilty may end up being the best option, it is not our firm’s default choice.
Making sure the military knows the full story behind your desertion and all the circumstances involved is important, and often has an impact on the punishment imposed. The military typically does not take into account the reason for the desertion when handing out punishments. However, some punishments can be mitigated. We do everything in our power to make sure our clients’ stories are told honestly and accurately, yet in a way that could lessen the consequences of desertion. We can assist you with the preparation of your case, argue it on your behalf, and help you appeal an unfavorable decision.
Each desertion case is unique, but time is of the essence in when it comes to putting up an effective defense. If you face desertion charges, or you are currently away from your military unit, contact the law firm of Aviso Law LLC today. While we cannot predict what punishment the military will chose to impose, we can promise that we will do our best to present the most compelling argument in your favor to minimize the impact of the charges against you, and preserve your rights and your freedom.