When you were at school you had no other ambition than to join the military. You pursued your dreams and signed up when you were of age. You’ve had a long and distinguished career, consisting of several tours.
While the work has been demanding, you’re proud of yourself, and for the most part, you’ve found it rewarding. But now, you find yourself in some hot water. You’ve been accused of desertion.
What is desertion in the military and what are the potential consequences?
Going AWOL vs desertion
“Going AWOL” is a term so commonly used that it has been picked up outside of the military context. It stands for absence without leave. In the military, you will be expected to attend certain places at specific times. You can’t simply not turn up without informing your superiors. If you have been assigned to a specific post, and do not report for duty, you will be considered to have gone AWOL.
Defining military desertion
The key distinction between going AWOL and desertion is that the latter is of a more permanent nature. If you have been missing from active service for a period of more than 30 days, you may be considered to have deserted.
Understanding your legal rights
The punishments for deserting your post can be severe. You may face dishonorable discharge, which would be a shame after your many years of loyal service. In extreme cases, you might even face a period of time in jail.
As with criminal trials, you have a presumption of innocence in military cases. There could be legitimate reasons to explain your absence, and having a knowledgeable legal team on your side will help to protect your distinguished reputation as a U.S. service person.