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Desertion | Article 85 UCMJ

R. Davis Younts

Military Lawyer

What Is Article 85 Of The UCMJ?

Desertion under Article 85 of the UCMJ occurs when a service member leaves their unit, organization, or place of duty without permission and plans to stay away for good. Returning quickly after leaving doesn’t excuse it. The prosecution can use circumstantial evidence to show the intent to stay away permanently at any time during the absence.

Any service member can face prosecution if they:

  • Leave or stay away from their unit, organization, or duty station without permission, intending to stay away indefinitely.
  • Abandon their unit, organization, or duty station with the intention of avoiding dangerous assignments or evading important responsibilities.
  • Enlist or accept an appointment in one of the armed forces without disclosing that they have not been properly discharged, or if they join a foreign armed service without authorization from the United States.

What is the Article 85 Maximum Punishment?

During war, this violation may be punished even with death. In times of peace, maximum punishment is dishonorable discharge, confinement for 3 years, and forfeiture of all allowances and pay in event of termination by apprehension. Otherwise, the maximum punishment is dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all allowances and pay, and up to 5 years confinement.

Dealing with an Article 85 Charge

If someone is facing charges under Article 85 as a principal of a crime, it’s crucial to seek immediate legal representation. Attorney R. Davis Younts has been a prosecutor, a JAG (Judge Advocate General), He’s been practicing law for two decades. Call attorney Younts Law at (833) 739-5291 or (717) 612-4840. Free consultation.

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