The U.S. military is governed by laws and regulations that are unique from civilian laws, meaning there are crimes that can be committed in the military that cannot be committed in civilian life. If charged with a military crime, a service member should hire a court-martial defense lawyer for counsel and defense. Here are some of the more common military crimes a member of the military should be aware of.


Any service member charged with a crime under the banner of “dereliction of duty” should be counselled by a qualified court-martial lawyer to understand the nature of the charge. Dereliction of duty can take many forms. Negligence in carrying out duty, where a service member actively refuses to carry out assigned duties, is one such example. Also, if a soldier or officer is incapacitated through personal actions, like falling asleep on the job or excessive drink or drugs, it can cause that service member to not carry out assigned duties or to perform them in a haphazard way. Finally, a service member can fake an illness or commit self-injury to get out of work. You should have a court-martial defense lawyer on hand to explain these concepts and prepare a defense if you should be charged.

Abandonment of Post

Should a soldier abandon their post without permission, it is grounds for a military crime. A soldier can temporarily abandon a post, which is called going AWOL, or Absent Without Leave. Some soldiers may completely abandon their post or duty with no intention to return to their unit, barrack, base or other place of duty. This is known as desertion. A soldier that is AWOL for more than thirty days is considered to have deserted. Finally, service members that miss boarding their vessel, aircraft, or fail to join their unit as it pulls out can be charged with missing movement. However, not all failure to meet up with a military unit or craft is a crime. If a sailor is headed for an aircraft carrier and is hit by a drunk or negligent driver on the road and misses the ship, that is not a crime. A service member who ends up in these situations should absolutely contact a court-martial defense lawyer.

Crimes Involving Property

A service member cannot sell off military property, such as explosives, vehicles or firearms, without proper authorisation. A soldier or officer can also run afoul of property regulations by damaging, losing or destroying property either deliberately or through omission. In the case of destruction, sale, loss or any other disposition that is prohibited by regulations, the property’s value is assessed and will direct the punishment of the guilty service member. A military lawyer-defense must be on hand to guide anyone accused of one of these offences and explain their rights under the law.

Knowing the different types of transgressions that can occur in the military can go a long way to avoiding them, but in the event you should find yourself charged with a military crime, contact a court-martial defense lawyer that knows and understands the law and can give you the best possible defense.