There are many benefits of retaining a military law practitioner in assisting Servicemembers who are Absent Without Leave.
Your attorney will advise you which base to turn yourself to
One of the first decisions is to decide which base to turn oneself to. There are 2 choices here: 1) the base from which you went AWOL or 2) another base. Depending on which base you choose, your Service may decide to send you somewhere else. Therefore, early planning with your attorney will be critical.
Your attorney will be able to negotiate with the prosecutor
A Government prosecutor (trial counsel) may be less willing to advocate more punishment if he or she knows that there is another attorney looking over his or her shoulder. When a Servicemember hires a civilian attorney, to many Government prosecutors this means that the Servicemember is serious about resolving the situation. For example, U.S. Army must comply with the procedures of Army Regulation 630–10, Absence Without Leave, Desertion, And Administration of Personnel Involved in Civilian Court Proceedings, when processing AWOL cases. Your attorney must be knowledgeable in this and other regulations to properly represent your best interest. In addition, your attorney will apply heavy scrutiny to all the documents, all the command actions, and all suggestions for punishment. Actions of the Government prosecutor will be filtered by another legal mind. If something is not right, your attorney will alert you, will invoke your rights, and will try to obtain some form of relief.
Your attorney will develop alternatives for you outside of a court-martial proceeding
Even though you may have violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it does not mean that you automatically have to be court-martialed. Your attorney will assist you in developing alternate disposals of your case. One of them could be an administrative discharge.
Your attorney will collect all the evidence to ensure a powerful representation, if a case is referred to a court-martial
Investigating your case, obtaining persuasive statements, writing powerful legal memoranda, engaging the Government prosecutor, and obtaining more evidence is a time consuming process. It takes the skill and guts to persuade the Government prosecutor not to proceed with a court-martial.
Your attorney will assist you, if you desire, in post-AWOL matters.
Depending on the resolution of your case, additional relief may not be necessary. However, sometimes Servicemembers who avoid a punitive discharge and confinement, may want to apply for relief or discharge upgrade with boards for correction of military records. By having an attorney from the start, you will have someone who already has all the documents, knowledge, and factual background to advocate on your behalf to obtain relief.