Army Court of Criminal Appeals holds statute of limitations did not run on AWOL because of time of war.
Recently, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA) in United States v. Rivaschivas upheld a conviction for desertion even though the appellant was charged with the offense after the statute of limitations had passed. The reason ACCA upheld the conviction was because he deserted his unit in 2007, a “time of war,” and therefore there was no statute of limitations according to the U.C.M.J. This is significant because it may mean that if you deserted or went AWOL anytime after 2003 there may be no statute of limitations on your offense. If you are currently in an AWOL status, you need to speak with an experienced attorney in confidence. I recommend that you call me if you are AWOL and want to discuss your options. Everyone’s situation is different and unique. I understand that you have a reason for why you left. Call me and we can talk about your specific situation. In most circumstances, I will likely advise that you not just ignore your status and hope to never get caught. Depending on the length that you have been away, there may now be a warrant out for your arrest. Therefore, if you are pulled over for a traffic violation or encounter the police some other way, you will be arrested. Then you may spend months in civilian confinement before you are even returned to your unit. Then your command will most likely place you in military confinement once you are returned to the unit. It is much better for you if you voluntarily surrender yourself back in to your unit. The command may even assist in paying for your transportation back. You will also be treated better than if you are involuntarily returned. Your command might even be willing to sit down and talk with you about why you did what you did. I am not saying that if you return voluntarily you will not be court-martialed or punished in some other way. Most likely you will face consequences for what you did. However, your voluntary return to duty will certainly help to lessen those consequences. I have experience in speaking to commands on behalf of AWOL servicemembers. If you are AWOL, don’t go through this alone. You need an advocate to speak to your command on your behalf and explain your unique circumstances. If you are AWOL, you need representation. Call me now, the consultation is confidential and free. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.