A service member may have need of a lawyer that focuses on military law for a variety of reasons. In fact, a need may also arise after a service member has left military service. For example, a former service member might encounter military-related discrimination after leaving the service.
A service member is considered AWOL (Absent Without Leave) when her or she fails to go to an appointed place, willingly leaves that place without permission, or is absent from the unit or place of duty. Serious ramifications have the potential to haunt someone who fails to report for duty with no intention to return, including discharge from the military and jail time. Someone can go AWOL for days, months, or even years, and can be considered a deserter if he or she has no intention to ever return.
The short answer is yes.
Should a service member place his or her trust in free legal services? To be sure, there are talented men and women who serve in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Legal assistance from JAG attorneys is generally available to all active duty members of the Armed Forces, as well as reservists who served on active duty at least 30 days, retirees, and lawful dependents. In some cases, federal civilian employees may also have access to free legal help from JAG attorneys.
Although a court martial may seem like an extreme measure, the reality is that they are a fairly common occurrence in the military justice system. A recent tally of the U.S. Army’s 59 courts-martial outcomes in June provides context.