My passion for Criminal Defense began my first year of college. I lived in the dorms, where students typically left their rooms unlocked. Near the end of my first semester, I noticed that someone had entered my unlocked room and taken $300 from my wallet. I informed the dorm manager, who encouraged me to report the theft to the campus police. I was reluctant to do so since I was quite confident I would never see the money again. However, I followed the advice of the dorm manager and reported the money stolen.
Law enforcement came to my dorm to question all possible witnesses, including me. Halfway through their investigation, they asked me to “come down to the station for some further questioning.” Being the naive freshman that I was, I happily cooperated. Upon arriving at the police station, the questioning quickly transformed from an open-ended investigation into a full-on interrogation, with me as the prime suspect. I was in shock! The police were now accusing me of falsely reporting the stolen money. They were confident that the money had not been stolen and that I was concealing something. I was told that they were trained to detect when someone was lying to them and that I exhibited all the behaviors of someone who was being deceitful. They attempted to play the good cop, bad cop routine. They told me that all I had to do was come clean, and that only then could they “help me.” I was literally speechless: I couldn’t find the words to defend myself from their onslaught of accusations.
My world had been turned upside down. My parents raised me to believe that law enforcement were there to help and protect us. I had believed that they had the best judgment. As a child I looked to the police as the heroes of the community. Now my character and reputation were being viciously attacked by these so-called heroes, who were building their own narrative of events. Fortunately, they gave up on their wild goose chase.
Unfortunately for countless others, police officers often persist in these efforts.
On that day, I quickly learned important lessons. I learned that the police are not always professional, nor are they always careful. They make mistakes often, and many have bad judgment. I learned that no one is safe from falling prey to false accusations. I learned how quickly a situation can get completely out of your control and go in directions you never imagined. Today I look back and laugh at the absurdity of it all; but rest assured, I was not laughing that day.
I remember on that day wishing that there were someone who could speak in my defense. I needed a real hero to save me from these so-called heroes. Furthermore, I remember resolving that the police should not put anyone in such an impossible situation when they are entirely innocent of any wrongdoing. As I progressed through my education, I realized that I could be a powerful ally in defending others from false accusations and trumped-up charges.
I now have extensive experience in representing the accused and significant experience in gaining victories for my clients. Prior to starting my own law firm, I handled the criminal cases for a prominent Idaho Senator’s private law firm. Before entering private practice, I had experience working for the Ada County Public Defender’s Office and the Gem County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
More times than not, defendants are either falsely accused or overcharged in Ada County. I will use every tool at my disposal to make sure you are adequately defended from overzealous county prosecutors. I am dedicated to putting the presumption of innocence back into the system.
Craig Atkinson is a criminal defense attorney, with key emphasis on DUI, reckless driving, domestic violence, and theft, as well as other traffic and violent crimes. He has a 5-star rating on legal rating site Avvo.