Does the Experience of Being a Former Prosecutor Help You Defend A Murder Case?
One of the scariest moments any lawyer goes through is trying their first murder case. No matter how long you’ve been practicing or how well-prepared you are, everyone is nervous trying their first murder case. Murder is the most serious crime you can be charged with; the stakes don’t get any higher unless you’re charged with capital murder and facing the death penalty.
Not only that, but murder cases involve types of evidence that don’t often appear in less serious cases. Autopsy reports, ballistics evidence, DNA evidence, gunshot residue evidence, and so on. It’s a lot of information to learn and absorb.
Fortunately, as a prosecutor, you get training and support from others who have tried many murder cases over their careers. You handle more murder cases in a year than some defense attorneys handle over their careers and you quickly learn where the weaknesses and strengths in a murder case lie. I may have been nervous when I tried my first murder case, but I wasn’t by the time I tried my third and fourth.
When I became a defense attorney, I didn’t need to learn how to analyze a murder case or get over the fear of trying one; I had done both of those things long ago. That’s not to say that trying a murder case as a defense attorney is different—it is, but the learning curve was much shallower than it would have been had I started out as a defense attorney.
My experience also helps me know what to focus on when defending a murder case. Since I’ve analyzed murder cases as a prosecutor, I have a better idea as to what the state is going to see as its strengths and weaknesses in its case, and I can use that knowledge to prepare a more effective defense.
I just shudder to think that anyone would have to defend a murder case for the first time without having first been mentored by someone who has gone through it or gone through some formal training. Yet I’ve seen people charged with murder hire lawyers without that experience, whether because they’re offering their services for cheap or because the lawyer is a “family friend.”
It’s critical to hire a defense attorney with experience trying murder cases. The stakes are too high not to.
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