DESERTION, crim. law. An offence which consists in the abandonment of the public service, in the army or navy, without leave.
2. The Act of March 16, 1802, s. 19, enacts, that if any non-commissioned officer, musician, or private, shall desert the service of the United Staies, he shall, in addition to the penalties mentioned in the rules and articles of war, be liable to serve for and during such period as shall, with the time he may have served previous to his desertion, amount to the full term of his enlistment; and such soldier shall and may be tried by a court-martial, and punished, although the term of his enlistment may have elapsed previous to his being apprehended or tried.
3. By the articles of war, it is enacted, that "any non-commissioned officer or soldier who shall, without leave from his commanding officer, absent himself from his troop, company, or detachment, shall, upon being convicted thereof, be punished, according to the nature of his offence, at the discretion of a court-martial." Art. 21.
4. By the articles for the government of the navy, art. 16, it is enacted, that "if any person in the navy shall desert to an enemy, or rebel, he shall suffer death;" and by art. 17, "if any person in the navy shall desert, or shall entice others to desert, he shall suffer death, or such other punishmemt as a court-martial shall adjudge."