Legal Question in Military Law in Maryland

Legal Advice about a statement I read

Many people believe that if one is absent without authority for 30 days or more, the offense changes from AWOL to desertion, but that's not quite true.

The primary difference between the two offenses is ''intent to remain away permanently.'' If one intends to return to ''military control'' someday, one is guilty of AWOL, not desertion, even if they were away for 50 years. Conversely, if a person was absent for just one minute, and then captured, he could be convicted of desertion, if the prosecution could prove that the member intended to remain away from the military permanently.

How true is this statement? Is it valid enough to use in my defense, IF I can prove that I did not have the ''intent to remain away permanently.''

Thank You for Your Assistance.

Asked on 3/04/09, 10:49 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Anthony DeWitt Bartimus, Frickleton Robertson & Gorny, PC

Re: Legal Advice about a statement I read

The fact that a person was gone for 30 days or more creates a presumption that you intended to remain away permanently. That presumption can be rebutted, but generally speaking, it is a hard thing to do if you took no action consistent with returning.

You should solicit advice from JAG and if possible, civilian counsel who handle military matters.

Good luck.

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Answered on 3/04/09, 8:38 pm

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