Desertion / AWOL / UA
When a military member is UA (Unauthorized Absence), goes AWOL (Absent Without Leave), or deserts military service, there are often underlying reasons for the conduct that requires special attention. In our years of experience, service members facing absence offenses under the UCMJ are often suffering from medical, psychological, or emotional stressors, and it is this stress that caused or contributed to the conduct.
Making matters worse, an uncaring military command then brands the service member as “weak” or some other derogatory term and initiates court martial or adverse administrative action. This only adds to the member’s stress, which then often leads to additional UCMJ misconduct of some sort. The result is that the military member is not only stressed to a breaking point, but he is also potentially facing court martial, imprisonment, and a dishonorable discharge or bad-conduct discharge. This is a vicious circle that military service members can find themselves in—and commands and military prosecutors don’t seem to care.
The court martial lawyers of Noel Tipon understand how fantastic Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airman, and Coast Guardsman can find themselves in a position where life just gets in the way of being where you’re supposed to be. This doesn’t make you a bad person. And it sure doesn’t make you a criminal. Commanders and military prosecutors that think otherwise need to be forcefully fought with legal expertise.
Noel Tipon provides clients with aggressive legal representation to fight back against the charges they’re facing. We also provide sound guidance on how to properly navigate the UCMJ mine field that your command has suddenly thrown you in the middle of.
If you’re a military service member facing a UA, AWOL, or desertion charge under the UCMJ, pick up the phone today and call our office so you can learn how we would investigate, prepare, and defend your case.
If you’re a military service member that is currently UA, AWOL, or in a desertion status, you should return to your command or military custody as soon as possible. Contacting an experienced court martial lawyer that can assist you in doing this can help lessen your risk of receiving the worst possible outcome.
Coming back voluntarily shows your remorse and desire to make things right. Remaining absent almost always makes matters much, much worse. If military or civilian law enforcement authorities capture you first, the government will highlight your intent to remain gone and then probably ask for a more severe punishment under the UCMJ. Warrants are often issued after a service member is absent for 30 days or more.
A military member that is arrested by civilian police for being UA, AWOL, or in a deserter status, will be held in civilian jail until picked up by military authorities. This is something to truly be avoided.
We get it, you’re scared. Doing nothing will only make it harder and harder. Call Noel Tipon today and let us help you get through this matter.
Desertion is the departure of a service member from his military duties with the INTENT TO REMAIN AWAY PERMANENTLY. Desertion is viewed as a far more serious UCMJ offense than UA/AWOL.
If military prosecutors believe an accused intended to remain away permanently and not return to their military duties, the government will likely charge the service member with desertion.
Unauthorized absence (UA) or absent without leave (AWOL), is charged when the member is absent without a justified reason—and usually for just minutes, hours, or days. The Navy and Marine Corps use the term UA, while the Army and Air Force use AWOL. They both mean the same thing. If you did not have the intent to remain away permanently, military prosecutors will charge you with UA/AWOL, rather than desertion.
Missing Movement is another absence offense under the UCMJ. Missing movement is punishable under the UCMJ if a military member misses, through neglect or design, the movement of a ship, aircraft, or unit which the member had a duty to move with. Missing movement offenses often revolve around a service member missing a unit’s movement for a deployment or military exercise.
If you’re currently UA/AWOL or in a desertion status or have been charged with any of these offenses under the UCMJ, it is absolutely imperative that you retain an experienced court martial lawyer that can investigate your case for extenuating and mitigating circumstances. This type of evidence is wide-ranging and can include evidence that there was a mix-up regarding duty location or time, the urgent need to care for a family member, or your own mental health issues.
Your defense attorney also needs to be able to persuasively present this evidence to your command, military prosecutors, or a court martial jury. Some court martial lawyers are just better at doing this than others are.