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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Lawyer
Category: Military Law
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Experience:  Lawyer and current JAG officer.
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What is the legal definition of Unathorized absence? Can a

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What is the legal definition of Unathorized absence? Can a Marine be charged for Article 86 for being late to work by like 5 minutes?

Thank you for your question today, I look forward to assisting you. I have nearly 20 years of legal experience in various disciplines, including JAG.


This fits under the first part of Article 86 of the UCMJ, which has the following elements:


(1) Failure to go to appointed place of duty.

    (a) That a certain authority appointed a certain time and place of duty for the accused;

    (b) That the accused knew of that time and place; and

    (c) That the accused, without authority, failed to go to the appointed place of duty at the time prescribed.


    So, the actual time is important. Being even just 5 minutes late makes the accused not be there at the time prescribed. Paragraph 8 of Article 86 of the UMCJ also makes clear that AWOL is an "instantaneous offense." It happens the moment that you are not present and requires no specific duration. The only issue that duration raises is the degree of potential punishments.


    So yes, a Marine or any other member of the military can be charged under Article 86 for being only 5 minutes late to work.

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