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Karin Riley Porter on Criminal Defense Experience

Why did you become a criminal defense attorney?

Karin Riley Porter: I became a criminal defense attorney because I enjoy trial work, and I also enjoy defending the rights of people who are accused of crimes. It’s a challenge, but it’s also a pleasure to represent people who need help, and I feel I have the background, experience, and dedication to do a good job at it. I enjoy serving people in that manner, and doing my best to get the best results possible for them.

What sets you apart from other criminal defense attorneys?

Karin Riley Porter: My work ethic in each and every case sets me apart from other attorneys. I spend a lot of time with my clients prepping them and getting a lot of information from them. I’m in constant contact with them, and I think that sets me apart from other lawyers, based on [feedback from] other people I’ve spoken with and clients that have transitioned to me from other attorneys. I am always available by phone and email, and I welcome people to come see me to prep their case several times before we even go to court. My work ethic and my dedication to the clients is something that does set me apart from other lawyers.

What types of criminal offenses do you most commonly defend?

Karin Riley Porter: Traffic is very common, as well as reckless driving, DUIs, and drug cases. I see a lot of larceny and domestic violence cases; those are the bulk of it. I handle all types of felonies or misdemeanors, such as crimes of violence, sex crimes, drugs, guns, etc…

How did being a prosecutor prepare you for a career in criminal defense?

Karin Riley Porter: The courtroom skills are very similar as a defense attorney as far as what happens in the courtroom, but this job is way more than what happens inside of the courtroom where the trial skills are. They don’t really teach you that as a prosecutor. One of the things I did learn that is relevant to what I do now is that I was able to observe other defense attorneys’ different skill levels, personalities, and approaches to cases. I was able to observe them and that makes a difference. I would see defense attorneys come in who I respected and who I knew were prepared. They would be confident and believe in their case; that’s the type of defense attorney that I wanted to be. It was helpful to have the opportunity to see all different kinds of attorneys to be able to model myself after those I held in high regard.

Criminal Defense Attorney in VirginiaAs far as what it prepared me for, it prepared me for how to look at a case, gather the evidence, and focus on spotting the legal issues in the case. As a prosecutor, you have to prove each element of the offense using certain evidence and know whether it’s going to be admitted at the trial. Those are basic things that you have to know and be skilled at. That transferred inversely to being a defense attorney. How are you going to fight it? How are you going to do the reverse and make a prosecutor’s job difficult? How can you attack the chain of custody of the evidence from the time of the collection to the time that it is admitted at trial? As a prosecutor, you might gloss over certain things, like the chain of custody issue, for example. As the defense attorney, you realize that they shouldn’t be glossing over certain steps. You can attack the admissibility of the incriminating evidence in that regard. As a defense attorney I try to reverse those tricks or shortcuts that I used to take hoping nobody would really notice. That is a way to attack their weaknesses. As far as the investigation goes, you get an understanding of which tools law enforcement has, how they use them, and how the case is put together and brought to the prosecutor. Knowing that and getting a sense of how a prosecutor and the police do their job is helpful.

What are the advantages of hiring a former prosecutor to defend you in a criminal case?

Karin Riley Porter: Someone that has fought the fight on both sides is going to have a more even or objective approach than a person that has only fought on one side of the fight. When I say fight, I mean professionally in court in terms of representing each side. What is important about that is that it’s the judge or jury that’s going to be making the actual determination. If you’re an attorney that can easily see both sides of the coin, you will have a definite advantage for the client versus a defense attorney that has never been on the other side. Their perspective might be skewed. They might value a particular defense more than it should be valued, or more than a judge or a jury would value it. That is actually a disservice to the client. Some other advantages are that if you have an attorney that’s been on the other side, then they have a better understanding of what a prosecutor would be interested in during negotiations, for example. They can easily decipher what types of mitigating factors, evidence, or circumstances a prosecutor would care about and consider. That’s a distinction as well. There are a lot of benefits to it, but overall I would say that it’s more of an objective approach. Someone that can easily see the other side is a benefit to the client.

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