The consequences of AWOL depend on the circumstances. A servicemember who goes AWOL during training may be granted an entry-level separation (ELS), he may receive nonjudicial punishment (NJP/Article 15/’Chaptered’) and will almost certainly be administratively processed with an other than honorable discharge (OTH) which terminates any VA (GI Bill) benefits he might have had. If there are compounding circumstances, a court martial (unlikely) that could lead to jail time (unlikely).
The Consequences of not returning and closing out this chapter in his life is that at any time in the future, during a minor or routine interaction with law enforcement, he may be arrested. Information on AWOL (UA) servicemembers is distributed through a number of law enforcement interagency components, including the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System and National Crime Information Center data. During a simple traffic stop his status as AWOL can ‘pop’, which causes local law enforcement to take the service member into custody pending arrival of military police.
Much better to deal with this on his own terms—with a little planning. SOONER rather than later. There will be some lost time (i.e. no work, school etc.) as deals with the consequences, the punishment phase etc. Eventually that involvement with law enforcement will happen, it will be at a bad time, and the consequences of being briefly tied up dealing with the military will compound his civilian (i.e. lose a job, drop out of school etc.).
Recommend he turn himself in to the nearest military authority and get this relatively simple processing matter cleared up, and in his rear-view mirror.
READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. We have not established an attorney-client relationship unless we have a signed representation agreement and you have paid me. I do five my 100% effort to get you on the right track with your issue. Sometimes that means legal educational information, sometimes that means counseling and non-legal guidance. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.
I will also point out that, depending on the circumstances, your brother could just get an NJP and not be discharged. But I completely agree that remedying this situation now will avoid unnecessary headaches later. The last thing your brother wants is to get pulled over for speeding one day, and get thrown in jail for being AWOL.
Also, I'm curious how he is AWOL from the National Guard. Was he mobilized and didn't go? Did he go and then walk away? Or has he just failed to show up at drill for 7 months? These things all factor in.
I agree with the other attorneys. Since your brother is/was in the Arizona National Guard he may be entitled to JAG counsel. Here is a link for your brother to submit a request for counsel in his region. http://www.calguard.ca.gov/TDS/Pages/default.aspx. Although the link will take you to the California National Guard, they will forward the request to the Arizona Army National Guard defense attorney.
The information provided does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is for general information purposes only. For actual legal advice, contact an attorney directly.