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Punitive Articles of the UCMJ

Article 85—Desertion (Page 3)


    (a) Hazardous duty or important service. “Hazardous duty” or “important service” may include service such as duty in a combat or other dangerous area; embarkation for certain foreign or sea duty; movement to a port of embarkation for that purpose; entrainment for duty on the border or coast in time of war or threatened invasion or other disturbances; strike or riot duty; or employment in aid of the civil power in, for example, protecting property, or quelling or preventing disorder in times of great public disaster. Such services as drill, target practice, maneuvers, and practice marches are not ordinarily “hazardous duty or important service.” Whether a duty is hazardous or a service is important depends upon the circumstances of the particular case, and is a question of fact for the court-martial to decide.

    (b) Quits. “Quits” in Article 85 means “goes absent without authority.”

    (c) Actual knowledge. Article 85 a(2) requires proof that the accused actually knew of the hazardous duty or important service. Actual knowledge may be proved by circumstantial evidence.

(3) Attempting to desert. Once the attempt is made, the fact that the person desists, voluntarily or otherwise, does not cancel the offense. The offense is complete, for example, if the person, intending to desert, hides in an empty freight car on a military reservation, intending to escape by being taken away in the car. Entering the car with the intent to desert is the overt act. For a more detailed discussion of attempts, see paragraph 4. For an explanation concerning intent to remain away permanently, see sub-paragraph 9c(1)(c).

(4) Prisoner with executed punitive discharge. A prisoner whose dismissal or dishonorable or bad-conduct discharge has been executed is not a “member of the armed forces” within the meaning of Articles 85 or 86, although the prisoner may still be subject to military law under Article 2(a)(7). If the facts warrant, such a prisoner could be charged with escape from confinement under Article 95, or an offense under Article 134.

Lesser ncluded offense.

Article 86—absence without leave

Maximum punishment.

(1) Completed or attempted desertion with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service. Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 5 years.

(2) Other cases of completed or attempted desertion.

    (a) Terminated by apprehension. Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 3 years.

    (b) Terminated otherwise. Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 2 years.

(3) In time of war. Death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.

Next Article> Article 86-Absence without leave >

Above Information from Manual for Court Martial, 2002, Chapter 4, Paragraph 9

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