Desertion and AWOL, for absent without official leave, are two charges the government brings against some service members who fail to report for duty. We detailed those two offenses as well as the potential penalties and defenses in previous blogs.
A third similar offense – missing movement – is somewhat less well-known but can also result in significant penalties. Members of the armed forces can face charges under Article 87 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) if they miss a designated movement by a ship, aircraft of unit to which they are assigned.
The elements of missing movement charges
Service members could face charges if they missed a designated movement either intentionally or accidentally. The components of the government’s case include:
- The accused was required to move with their unit, ship or aircraft
- They knew that the movement was happening but did not show up
- Their actions were either intentional or due to neglect
Intent usually matters when it comes to punishment. For example, a sailor who accidentally fails to board their ship before it sets sail can face confinement for one year, forfeit pay and possibly face a bad-conduct discharge. However, someone who intentionally missed a military movement can receive a dishonorable discharge and two years of confinement.
Defending against charges
Defense strategies for missing movement cases often focus on whether the service member’s actions were intentional or accidental. In these cases, the best approach may be to minimize the consequences. However, other defenses include circumstances beyond the military member’s control that made it impossible for them to report on time, such as being in a car accident.
If you are charged with missing movement, desertion or being AWOL, it is crucial to contact an experienced military defense attorney. Knowledgeable lawyers understand how to protect your rights and make sure they are not violated under the complex military justice system.