Legal Question in Military Law in Ohio

warrant for arrest for AWOL when already given general discharge

my daughter was given a general discharge in april this year from the army after leaving the base on her own in march. i saw her paperwork. she was hired recently and has been working. she has spoken to a army official a month or so ago and he advised her everything is ok, she just owes the army some money as they paid her a few weeks after she was gone and confirmed again she is generally discharged. an civilian police officer showed up today looking for her and advised there is a warrant out for her arrest. she was told to go to a police station, explain the circumstances and turn herself in by the officer over the phone.

what should she do? i read a prior article on another site of a soldier who had an honorable discharge 2 years ago who was arrested for being AWOL when of course he wasn't. it took his mother 7 hours to get him out by making phone calls.

is there anything i can do? she should do?

Asked on 9/15/07, 12:15 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Philip D. Cave Military Law & Justice

Re: warrant for arrest for AWOL when already given general discharge

1. Does your daughter have a document in her possession; in the bottom left hand corner it says DD Form 214. If so, that is a discharge certificate.

2. This is a public website, please contact me direct for more information on this issue. There are a number of questions that need asked and answered.

Sincerely, Phil at

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Answered on 9/15/07, 12:11 pm
Donald G. Rehkopf, Jr. Brenna, Brenna & Boyce, PLLC

Re: warrant for arrest for AWOL when already given general discharge

While I agree with my colleague, Mr. Cave, unless the police officer you will be dealing with has "military" experience, they won't know what a DD Form 214 is or its legal significance.

What "probably" happened was that they issued a warrant for your daughter when she went AWOL - that gets entered into the FBI's national computer system and unless the Army canceled the warrant when she returned, the "system" [which all police agencies link into] still shows an active warrant for her arrest.

The other problem is that the police do NOT have the authority on their own to cancel a warrant that is issued outside of their own jurisdiction - so the police officer misled you. Your daughter can go to the police station and turn herself in, but in fact, they will take her into custody until they can bring her before a judge, usually in 24-48 hours. Most AWOL warrants are what we call "no bail" warrants, meaning that only a Judge - not the police - can set bail while the "problem" is being worked out.

If you have a family lawyer who is familiar with the criminal court system, the BEST thing for you and your daughter to do, is to go with the lawyer to the police during the day when the court is open. IF the police insist on arresting her [which will thereafter also show up on her "record"] the lawyer can then immediately go to the Judge and get bail set until the warrant can be cancelled or withdrawn.

The lawyer should also call whoever you were talking with at the Army and tell them to withdraw the AWOL warrant IMMEDIATELY.

If I can be of any additional assistance, just email me. Good luck!

Don Rehkopf

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Answered on 9/15/07, 2:31 pm

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