The acronym “AWOL” stands for absent without leave. It is a well-known term for military personnel and involves some serious penalties for those who are found guilty of committing it. This blog will cover some of the ways that a service member may be considered AWOL; this post’s contents, though, are not comprehensive. Please consult with a military law attorney if you have questions about a specific case.

A service member may be deemed AWOL if they fail to arrive at a place that they have been appointed for duty. For these charges to stick, a service member must have been appointed to be at the location in question at a certain point in time, known where and when they were supposed to be there and left or failed to arrive at the location when they were supposed to report. Knowledge is a key component of this type of AWOL charge.

Also, a service member may be considered AWOL if they are absent from their unit or place of duty. For this charge to apply, a service member must leave their place of duty, unit or organization without permission and be gone for a certain period of time. This form of AWOL charge can be modified if the service member went AWOL in order to avoid participating in a certain activity or drill.

When a service member is alleged to have gone AWOL, they are exposed to numerous military punishments. These can include, but are not limited to, loss of pay, confinement and even dishonorable discharge. It can be in the interest of a service member to fight their AWOL charges with the help of a military law attorney.