I am AWOL, what should I do??
If you have left your place of duty without proper permission, you are Absent without Leave (AWOL) in violation of Article 85, UCMJ. Depending on the length of time you have been away and the circumstances upon which you left, you could be a deserter. If you left your unit to avoid hazardous duty such as a deployment, your AWOL may be seen as a more severe violation which may result in more severe punishment at a court-martial or other adverse proceeding. Everyone’s situation is different and unique. I understand that you have a reason for why you left, but that you don’t know whether the command will even listen to you. Regardless of your situation and explanation however, my advice will most likely be the same. I 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. Your command will then 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 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. Please call me, 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.