Why Did You Decide To Practice Criminal Law?

I decided to go to law school because I always knew I wanted to practice criminal law. Growing up, I was fascinated by TV shows like Law & Order, crime documentaries, and crime novels, and I wanted to be involved in the legal side of that world. I knew I could never be a lawyer sitting a desk all day reading over the tax code or thumbing through boxes of documents in a windowless conference room. I wanted to be involved in an area of the law that had a high degree of interaction with people. Criminal law is. by far, the area of the law where you have the most day-to-day interaction with people. Not corporate executives, but regular people who have real problems where the stakes are very high. So when I finally went to law school, I took a lot of criminal law classes, I participated in mock trial, and I was fortunate to do well enough that I figured I had made the right decision to go into criminal law.

After law school, I started working as a prosecutor, which is what many law school graduates who want to get into criminal law try to do because it’s the quickest way to get experience handling criminal cases. I worked for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office here in Houston. I started in the Misdemeanor Division, handling low-level misdemeanor cases such as DWIs, assaults, trespass cases, and possession of small amounts of drugs. I worked my way up to eventually handling more complicated kinds of misdemeanor cases, such as car burglary cases and DWI cases involving blood evidence. I was eventually promoted to work in the Felony Trial Bureau, where I handled everything from murders to sexual assaults, child molestation cases, and drug cases that involving larger amounts of drugs.

While I worked at the District Attorney’s Office, I also rotated through a few specialized divisions. The specialized division I spent most time in was the Family Criminal Law division, which exclusively handles domestic violence cases, particularly, domestic violence cases where the complainant (i.e. the alleged victim) does not want to cooperate. The cases I handled often involved serious injuries and were challenging to prosecute because the complainants—your most important witnesses–did not want anything to do with their cases. I’d estimate that, over the years I spent in the Trial Bureau and in the Family Criminal Law Division, I probably handled over a thousand domestic violence cases. I eventually became Chief over the Misdemeanor Section and trained younger prosecutors on how to try domestic violence cases.

I also spent some time in the Vehicular Crimes Division, where I handled intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault cases, which are DWIs where a person has been killed or seriously injured.

In total, I worked at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for a little over six and a half years, and I gained a great deal of experience in my time there. In the end, though, I decided it was time for a change so I left to start my own criminal defense practice.

One of the first things I did when I left the District Attorney’s Office was to qualify myself to take felony-level criminal appointments, since anybody who starts their own practice isn’t going to have a client base right away. Taking criminal appointments has allowed me to develop a reputation as I continue to grow my private client base.

When you take criminal appointments, you’re doing the same job as a public defender. Harris County does have public defender’s office, but the public defender’s office here doesn’t have enough lawyers to handle all the cases where people are too poor to hire their own lawyers. The courts rely on private attorneys, like myself, to step up and act as a public defender even though you’re still representing private clients.

In order take criminal appointments, you have to have a certain number of trials, a certain number of years of experience, pass a written test, and be approved by a majority of the judges. I did all of that and was qualified by the courts to take first-degree felony cases and below. That means that if a murder case comes in, or a sexual assault case, or case involving large amounts of drugs, I can get called by the court to come in and represent the person who’s charged with that crime. Not all defense attorneys can say that they’re trusted by the courts to handle these most serious of cases.

Since I’ve started my own defense practice, I have begun to focus more and more on family assault cases because of my experience. I tend to get very good results for my clients in those cases. That said, I still handle a variety of other criminal cases, including, for example, drug cases, theft cases, and robbery cases. If you look at the case results section of my website, you’ll see that I’ve gotten good results for my clients in these cases as well.

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