How Much Experience Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Need to Become Experienced

The truth is that the minute you have day one under your belt, it’s a fair statement.

Different types of cases require different levels of experience. For example, a simple trespass case doesn’t have a lot of twists and turns. The facts usually are what they are and the attorney’s experience level probably won’t have a huge impact on the outcome. But when you are dealing with white collar crimes, serious drug offenses, or even sex crimes—matters that can land you in prison for a very long time—you might not want to put your fate in the hands of a rookie.

My Dad Once Said…

As I look back over 25+ years that I have spent practicing criminal law (the vast majority as a criminal defense attorney in Phoenix, Arizona), I think back to some things that my father told me early on in my career:

  • It takes 5 years to figure out where the courtroom is
  • It takes you another 3 years to know what the hell you’re doing
  • It takes at least another 5 years after that to get good at it.

I laughed, but boy was he right. And the truth is that it takes even more time to really hone your skills. What I mean by that is that so much of being a criminal defense lawyer is about instinct and intuition. It’s about knowing where police cut corners in an investigation and also knowing what records to subpoena in order to nail a witness before the lie even comes out of their mouth on the witness stand. It’s about spotting issues that you’ve seen before so that you can anticipate and eviscerate a prosecutor’s response to your attack on their case.

Doctors and Lawyers; Are We That Different?

Yes, we are. We’re like apples and oranges. But there is a point to this.

If you have a heart problem and need surgery, you don’t want a surgeon who is fresh out of medical school and you don’t want someone who is heading into the sunset of their career. You want someone who is at the top of their game; the prime of their career. You want someone who has a lot of experience doing similar procedures and has outstanding recent results.

The same holds true when you are looking to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you or someone close to you who is charged with a serious criminal matter.

Where I Am in My Career

My dad was right. It took a long time to get good at what I do, and even longer to the point where I am now. It all comes down to experience. It’s about tackling and winning the complicated issues that most inexperienced lawyers might not have even seen—not because they are not bright and capable, but because they just haven’t been around long enough to know what they’re looking for. The best part is, I’ve got a long time left in this business and I plan on being around for a while. The truth is that I love doing what I do.

Although my office is based in Phoenix, I handle serious felony cases all over Arizona in both state and federal courts. If you are looking to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who puts your interests first, give me a call at (602) 663-9100 to set up a consultation.

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