Colorado Springs Defense Attorney for AWOL, Desertion and Other Charges

Any active-duty military service member failing to report for duty frequently faces serious charges as a result. The possible charges include absence without leave (AWOL), desertion, and missing movement

All three offenses can result in severe punishments, including the death penalty for desertion during wartime. If a service member is AWOL for 30 days or longer, they are considered a deserter. A missing movement charge is filed when a service member misses their ship or aircraft, either intentionally or through neglect.

If you are facing one of these charges, the consequences could be severe and long-lasting, both to your military career and in civilian life. You may need an military defense attorney to help sort out the details of your case and choose the best way forward for you, your family, and your career. Anaya-McKedy, PC, are your Colorado Springs AWOL and desertion defense attorneys.

AWOL

An armed services member who fails to report to an appointed location, leaves that location, or is otherwise absent from their expected place of duty is considered absent without leave (AWOL). For example, a service member ordered to report for guard duty who leaves halfway through their shift without permission would be considered AWOL.

The United States Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM) breaks down the different ways a service member can be absent without leave.

Failure to Report to an Appointed Place of Duty

This aspect of the law applies when the accused:

  • Received an assignment to report to a specific place at a particular time.
  • Was aware of the time and place to report for duty.
  • Failed to report for duty at the appointed place and time without authorization.

 

Leaving an Appointed Place of Duty

This facet of the legal code applies when the accused:

  • Received an assignment to report for duty at a specific place at a particular time.
  • Was aware of the time and place to report for duty.
  • Left the designated location after reporting for duty without authority.

Absence without Authority

The accused is considered absent from their unit, organization, or place of duty when:

  • The accused leaves their post, unit, or organization.
  • The absence is without authorization.
  • The absence was for an unauthorized period or ended with apprehension.

Absence with the Intent to Avoid Maneuvers or Field Exercises

This charge applies when the accused has met the criteria for Absence without Authority, and the accused:

  • Was aware that their absence would occur during maneuvers or field exercises.
  • Intended to avoid some or all of the maneuvers or field exercises.

 

Abandoning the Watch or Guard

This aspect of the law applies when:

  • The accused was assigned to guard or watch duty.
  • The accused left their assigned post.
  • The absence was not authorized.
  • The accused intended to abandon their post.

 

Punishment

Punishment for an AWOL offense depends on its severity, and the decision is frequently at the discretion of the accused’s commanding officer. The consequences typically include forfeiting pay and confinement of some duration.

For example, an AWOL charge for three days or less could result in a month of confinement and forfeit of two-thirds of a month’s pay. Service members absent for 30 days or longer could face a dishonorable discharge, forfeit of all pay and pensions, and possible one-year imprisonment.

Desertion

Similar to being AWOL, the charge of desertion occurs when a service member fails to report for duty or leaves their assigned post. The charge of desertion assumes the accused intended to leave their post or unit permanently.

Additionally, any service member who is AWOL for 30 days or more is considered a deserter in the absence of proof of intention. The MCM specifies three types of desertion.

Desertion with Intent to Leave Permanently

The accused meets the criteria for this type of desertion when:

  • The accused has departed their unit or assigned station.
  • The absence was unauthorized.
  • The accused intended to remain away from their unit or assigned station.
  • The accused remained absent until the alleged date of contact or apprehension.

Deserting with Intent to Avoid Important or Hazardous Duty

The accused meets the criteria for desertion in this form when the accused:

  • Abandoned their post or unit.
  • Intended to avoid specific duties or services.
  • Was aware that their service was required.
  • Remained away until the alleged date of contact or apprehension.

Desertion before Receiving Notice of Resignation Acceptance

The accused meets the criteria for this charge when the accused:

  • Is a commissioned officer tendering their resignation.
  • Discontinued performing their duties before receiving notice of acceptance for their resignation.
  • Intended to leave permanently.
  • Remained away until the alleged date of contact or apprehension.

Service members could also be charged with attempted desertion, which is also a military crime if the attempted desertion went beyond the planning stage. Desertion carries a maximum penalty of a dishonorable discharge, forfeiting all pay, and five years of imprisonment. During wartime, however, the court-martial can apply the death penalty.

Missing Movement

Missing the departure of a ship, aircraft, or unit, whether intentionally or neglectfully, can result in a charge of missing movement. For example, if a service member accidentally misses their scheduled flight with their unit to a new assignment, they are looking at a possible bad conduct charge, pay forfeiture, and a year in prison. If the service member intended to miss their flight, ship, or unit, the consequences could include a dishonorable discharge and two years in detention.

The accused can be charged with missing movement if:

  • They were required to move out with their unit, ship, or aircraft.
  • The accused was aware of the possible movement of their unit, ship, or aircraft.
  • They missed the movement of their unit, ship, or aircraft.
  • The movement was missed either through neglect or intentionally.

Exceptions may be granted if the circumstances were beyond the service member’s control.

Consider contacting a qualified criminal defense attorney if you are facing charges for AWOL, desertion, or another offense. Anaya-McKedy, PC, your Colorado Springs AWOL and desertion defense attorneys, may be able to help with your case. We have experience with working with personnel from Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base. Don’t hesitate to contact us today at 719-623-5152.