Why Selecting a Former Prosecutor to Defend You May be a Good Idea
How much experience as a prosecutor does the candidate have?There is a certain percentage of prosecutors working in local prosecutors offices who enter the office to get a few years trial experience so that they can go into a private criminal defense practice. There is nothing wrong with that plan as any time you spend learning your way around the courtroom is time well spent. However, you should know that the first 5 - 8 years in the D.A.'s office is generally spent trying misdemeanors and low level felonies. This experience is fine if you are looking at those types of charges, however if you are facing significant time you may want a lawyer who has substantial experience handling serious cases.
What type of work did they specialize in as a prosecutor?After the first 5 -6 years in the office, those people who are moving up generally tend to do more specialized work. You find D.A.'s who have spent a good portion of their career doing gang cases, major fraud, juvenile offenses, sexual assault, and homicide to name but a few. Find out what type of cases your potential attorney spent the most time trying and see how it fits with your potential case.
What type of reputation did your prospective lawyer have as a prosecutor?Like any public bureaucracy, there are certain lawyers who stand out above the rest. Take the time to investigate by asking anyone you know in the court system about this persons reputation in the legal community. If you want an exceptional defense attorney, look for someone who was an exceptional prosecutor. The work ethic and courtroom skills will not change. People who enjoy what they do and are good at it generally rise to the top. Always try to find the best lawyer you can afford, there is too much at stake not to.
Is the lawyer you are considering a trial lawyer or a negotiator?Some lawyers spend the majority of their practice plea bargaining cases. They try to get the best offer they can first from the DA and if that doesn't work, they'll try the Judge. The only problem here is that only the DA in most cases has the authority to change or dismiss charges. If your lawyer cannot get an offer that satisfies you will need to go to the court for an offer, it generally means you will have to plead guilty to all the offenses charged as the Judge normally doesn't have the unilateral power to dismiss charges absent hearing the evidence at a preliminary hearing or trial and even then the Judge is constrained.
Your best bet is finding a lawyer who is not only a good negotiator but also a good trial lawyer. That way if no resolution of your case is possible, you already have a good trial lawyer on board to go forward and try your case rather than having to fire you first lawyer and hire another one, which could get costly and waste precious time to prepare.