Interview with Steve Hisker

What made you choose a career in criminal law?

I chose to practice criminal law because I have always felt a strong desire to help the underdog.

The criminal defendant is hated in our society: the media railroads people as soon as the government makes an arrest. Major newspapers proudly display the mugshots of these people on their websites for the world to see, but when the case is dismissed or a not guilty verdict is delivered, the media is nowhere to be found. I have seen how easy it is for the police to arrest someone on baseless allegations. These people are yanked from their homes and dragged to jail before the government even completes an investigation. The judges ignore the presumption of innocence and set monetary bonds when some people have turned themselves in. The sole purpose of bond is to assure a defendant will appear in court. If they turned themselves in, why wouldn’t they come to court? If they were going to run, they would have already done so. These defendants then have to hire bondsmen just to get out of jail. It is up to the citizen to prove his or her innocence when it should be the other way around. The government should have to produce more than just allegations to make an arrest. My understanding of how unjust this process can be only fuels my desire to defend the rights of my clients.

What sets your firm apart from other firms in the area?

I started my career defending murder cases. When the government makes an arrest for murder, they generally bring all the government resources to investigate and prosecute the case. My mentor, Jack Swerling, is nicknamed “Mr. Murder.” By the time I was 30 years old, I had defended approximately 50 murder cases. There was a time when I managed 36 pending murder cases at one time. Jack taught me to follow a strict protocol for defending the most serious cases and I bring that protocol to every case that I handle today.

What is a case that you are particularly proud of?

I am proud of many of the cases that I have handled. I have helped many people who acted in self-defense but were charged with violent offenses such as lynching, assault, murder, and criminal domestic violence. I have helped many 18-20 year olds who were charged with drinking offenses because the police violated their rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

What steps do you take to prepare for a difficult case?

I make sure that I have all of the evidence that the government intends to use, and I review it thoroughly with every client. I explain all of the evidence so that the client fully understands the strengths and weaknesses in the case. I fully develop every possible defense.

How do you view your role in the attorney-client relationship?

I am their protector, fighter, and champion. The greatest feeling is when they first meet with me and tell me how much better they feel just having me in their corner. I want to make my clients feel as comfortable as possible while they are going through the stress of a criminal case.

What sets you apart from other criminal defense attorneys?

Many old school lawyers don’t take the time to talk to their clients—they don’t explain things. They might be great attorneys who get great results for their clients, but they don’t tell their clients what is going on. I’ve seen many clients who said that they hired X criminal defense lawyer and the lawyer just said “pay me $___ and I will take care of it.” No explanation of what penalties they faced or what strategy the attorney would use. I explain everything to the client. They need to know what the criminal justice process is and what steps I take in every case to get them the best possible result.

How does having experience in the criminal field benefit your clients?

Experience gets better results. I recently had a criminal domestic violence client who was nearly ready to throw in the towel and accept a deal that was not appropriate for the case. The client was not prepared to deal with the stress of court and the process sometimes takes a long time. I convinced the client to follow my protocol and the case was eventually dismissed.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

The most rewarding aspect of my job is when a client or a client’s family member thanks me. They thank me for making them feel confident when they once felt vulnerable. They thank me for reuniting them with their families. They thank me for helping them preserve their educations and careers from a permanent criminal record.

What advice do you most often give your clients & why?

I advise clients to always speak with an attorney before talking about their case with anyone. They might believe that they can talk the police out of arresting them—they generally cannot. If the police are asking questions, its usually going to result in an arrest talking to them is only going to make it worse. Even denials will be twisted against them later.

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