Failure to Report for Duty Military Lawyer


Have you been accused of failing to report for duty? Depending on your charges and the length of your alleged absence, if you are convicted, you may face anything from fines to punitive discharge and a federal conviction. Don't face these allegations alone or with an inexperienced lawyer. Turn to a former Marine military judge with more than 30 years of legal experience.

Failure to report to military duty defense lawyer Patrick J. McLain offers aggressive defense to servicemen and servicewomen accused of military offenses. He is a former USMC defense attorney, court martial judge and federal prosecutor who understands military offenses from all sides. His experience, coupled with his dedication to members of the military, makes him a strong choice to protect your future.


Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), any member of the armed forces can be punished for failure to report for duty if prosecutors can show that he or she, without authority:

  • Failed to go to his or her appointed place of duty at the time prescribed;
  • Went from his or her appointed place of duty; or
  • Absented himself/herself or remains absent from the unit, organization or required place of duty at which he or she is required to be at the time prescribed.

The military uses many different titles for these offenses, including:

  • Absence without official leave (AWOL)/Unauthorized absence (UA): These are synonyms for failure to report for duty and include temporary or prolonged absences, first offenses or repeat offenses
  • Missing movement: Missing movement is alleged failure to arrive at the time to deploy (with an Army unit, Navy ship, Air Force aircraft, etc.)
  • Desertion: If the alleged absence lasted for more than 30 days, prosecutors may attach the label “deserter” to you and issue a federal warrant for your arrest

After 30 days' absence without official leave, a member of the armed forces can be charged with the federal crime of desertion and risk dishonorable discharge and jail time. If a family member or loved one is in the service and has gone AWOL, it is extremely important to call an independent military lawyer immediately.

Patrick J. McLain will discuss the legal options in a completely confidential consultation.


Prosecutors must show that you knew of the time and place where you had to be and that you did not have permission to leave or authority for your absence. If they cannot prove these elements, they cannot convict you. Even if they can prove that you intentionally did not report for duty, there may be ways to minimize your potential sentence or avoid a criminal record altogether.

Patrick McLain can represent you in Nonjudicial Punishment (NJP) hearings, courts martial or federal courts.

Call (214) 416-9100 for an initial consultation.