As a civilian attorney practicing as a military lawyer in courts-martial, I defend service members in all branches — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard — who are accused of desertion or absence without leave, and facing legal actions such as court-martial, Article 32 investigation, Article 15 nonjudicial punishment (also known as NJP, captain’s mast, or office hours), and administrative separations. My law office is centrally located in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area, which allows easy access to every military base in CONUS, as well as around the globe.
These cases are typically prosecuted under UCMJ Article 85 (Desertion), Article 86 (Absence without leave), and Article 87 (Missing movement).
Whether you call it UA, or AWOL, or desertion, there are serious consequences in the military for not being where you’re supposed to be, and on time. For some members, the pressure of military service can seem overwhelming, and not what they were expecting or hoping for when they took the oath to serve. Personal and family problems can seem huge, and the command doesn’t seem to care a bit. Some members give in to the temptation to run away, others may decide it’s easier to stay home than return from their leave or liberty period. But however it happens, it leads to an arrest warrant and prosecution when the member returns or is brought back in handcuffs.
Depending on the duration of your absence, you may or may not be subject to a punitive discharge if you are convicted. Usually, absences over 30 days will result in a federal arrest warrant being issued, which means you could be apprehended at any place or any time. If you are apprehended while out with your children, and the officers can’t contact anyone to come care for them, your children could be placed into temporary foster care.
If you are absent from your unit and need help figuring out what to do, call me for a free consultation. I can help arrange your return to military control in the least painful way, and can advise and even represent you as your civilian defense attorney in whatever military disciplinary proceeding comes up.