As a lawyer with over 25+ years of experience, my first 6 years practicing law was spent as an assistant prosecutor for the state of Missouri. As a prosecutor, on any given day I was responsible for prosecuting approximately 350 misdemeanor cases and 150 felony cases. These cases ranged in seriousness from first offense DWI to aggravated robbery and sexual assault. I have also prosecuted complex cases such as tax evasion and employee theft
During the course of these prosecutions I worked across to table from hundreds of criminal defense lawyers of varying degrees of experience and competency. Those criminal defense attorneys taught me what to say and what not to say to a prosecutor. Every day of those six years, I observed many very skilled defense lawyers prepare their cases for trial. But I also observed many mediocre lawyers, and few attorneys who just were not competent to handle criminal cases. A good criminal defense attorney must not only know the law, he must also be a skilled negotiator who understands what is happening behind closed doors in the District Attorney’s Office.
The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys Have Experience on Both Sides of the Courtroom
I have learned that many Assistant District Attorneys are often more frightened of police officers and the victim advocates who work in their offices, than they are of the criminal defense attorney. Many times, an assistant district attorney will agree more with the criminal defense lawyer than with the police officer or victim’s advocate. But because of office politics, right and wrong often gets pushed aside for public relations and job security.
As a prosecuting attorney preparing my cases, I worked with all levels of law enforcement from university campus police to the county sheriff, the highway patrol, and the FBI, DEA, and Secret Service. I learned how law enforcement is trained and how police think when they investigate crimes, in fact I once taught at the police academy. Detectives and patrol officers routinely called me seeking advice on criminal cases they were investigating. Also, I would routinely go back to the arresting officer or the detective in-charge of an investigation to have follow-up investigations conducted.
When I switched sides and started defending people charged with criminal offenses, I brought with me all the knowledge I gained in six years of working with law enforcement. What my experience also taught me, was that like most human beings, many police offices are willing to cut corners to get home early or because of loyalty to fellow officers they may look the otherway when another officer steps outside the boundaries set by the law. I am very effective in determining the real truth from a police report, because over the last 20+ years I have prosecuted or defended thousands criminal cases.
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