As a former police officer and state prosecutor, I have been asked why I practice exclusively criminal defense law. Many of my colleagues at the prosecutor's officer see the career shift as a move to the “dark side.” How could someone so committed to law and order work to help people who have been accused of crimes? I see my work in a different light. Practicing criminal defense law enables me to uphold the basic foundations of our constitution, and to provide a service to people who are in need.
As a teenager I wanted to become a police officer. For me, fighting crime and catching bad guys was very exciting. Now, as a criminal defense lawyer, I use my skills, training, and experience to defend people that I would have once arrested. A former police officer who served as a state prosecutor deciding to not continue to fight crime. Are these two concepts at odds?
I practice criminal defense law because I love this country and I believe it what our democracy is founded upon. Being an American means that every person is afforded certain rights and freedoms. As a criminal defense attorney, I am a voice for the voiceless.
Why did I become a criminal defense lawyer?
John Adams has always been a fascinating historical figure for me. In 1770, Adams made the difficult decision to defend the British soldiers who were accused of the Boston Massacre. He was a patriot, but he recognized the importance of everyone receiving a fair trial. To Adams, a fair trial included a competent and thorough defense. When he accepted the case, John Adam's reputation was on the line, as was the fate and livelihood of his family. It was an unpopular decision. He stood up for what he believed in and he took that difficult case.
I will not pretend to place myself in the same league as John Adams. However, his legacy, determination, and patriotism has served as my example. Sticking up for unpopular people who are charged with crimes is nothing new. When a newsworthy crime is charged, typically, early on, the community has made up their mind. It is the criminal defense attorney who stands up for the accused and works to tell his or her side of the story.
Now that I have been a criminal defense attorney, I have seen firsthand how the law (and punishment) can be arbitrary. Two similarly situated people with the same charges in separate courtrooms can receive wildly different sentences. Sometimes the prosecutor is being harder on him or her than they are with other people in similar situations. Justice should be equal for all. I have also been called upon by police officers who have had an accusation leveled against them.
Do I have trouble sleeping at night?
By defending people that others cast aside, I am defending principles that are important to me, our country, and every American citizen. Due process is a crucial principle for our legal system, as are fairness and equality. Principles as American as justice and freedom depend on a fair and just legal system. To me, a patriot is someone who upholds these principles.
But the real answer to the question is that I do have trouble sleeping. While I do not have any moral qualms over my role as a criminal defense attorney, I do worry about my clients. Their plights are always at the front of my mind. I stay awake at night wondering how I can serve them better. I think about how they have put their trust me, how they count on me, and how it is my responsibility to protect their constitutional rights. I have defended cases where the state is seeking the death penalty, or a life sentence. In those cases, my client's life is literally on the line. So yes, my job keeps me up at night. The people I represent are in difficult, confusing, and emotional situations. A criminal defense attorney stands beside them and lends a hand, guiding them through one of the most challenging times in their life. I take my job very seriously because real people rely on me every day.
Uniquely qualified to be a criminal defense lawyer
Instead of using my experience and insider knowledge from my career as a police officer and state prosecutor to help the bad guys get away, I see it as leveraging my experience to help another person's future.
My time as a police officer and state prosecutor also enables me to spot injustices and unfairness quickly and stand up for my clients. Often, a whole community is ready to throw a person away. Instead of leaving them on their own to fight an uphill battle, I help level the playing field and ensure that they have a zealous advocate with them every step of the way
Being charged with any crime is life changing. If you have been charged with a crime in Volusia County, contact me today to discuss your case. The sooner that you get an experienced attorney working on your case, oftentimes, the better the outcome is. I am available anytime day or night to speak with you.