A member of the community, defending the community
Although it’s not something we actively anticipate- there are times when even the best of us find ourselves amidst an unpleasant brush with the law. Maybe you consumed a few too many glasses of wine while out with friends- and made the mistake of not cabbing it home. Maybe you’ve been caught without your medical marijuana prescription card. Regardless as to the what, when, why, or how of your newfound legal situation, it’s good to know that there are people willing to stand by your side.
Originally from Ramona, San Diego based attorney Thomas Hughes got his undergrad degree in Sacramento and went to law school at Whittier College in Orange County.
“While at Whitter I worked for two years as an intern for the Orange County District Attorney and fell in love with criminal law,” Hughes told SDGLN in a recent interview.
“After graduating, I got my first job in Riverside working as a Deputy District Attorney (DDA) and was there for three years, but eventually I decided I wanted to come home.” That decision prompted Hughes to tender his resignation and open his own criminal defense firm in Hillcrest.
“Criminal law is the most interactive,” adds Hughes. “You can see results instantaneously. Practicing criminal law gets you in front of the court room. It’s a more competitive environment than one might experience practicing in other areas of the law and winning a case affords direct results. You can impact a larger percentage of people more quickly.”
Hughes practices in a number of areas including DUI defense cases, drug crimes, domestic violence, theft crimes, assault & battery, weapons charges, record expungement, probation violations and traffic violations.
“I work strictly in criminal defense,” he continues, noting his five years of experience as a criminal prosecutor. “I understand the cases and I understand the process. I work with first, second, or even felony DUI cases, hate crime cases, and even community traffic tickets if that comes up. But I won’t be handling murder cases,” laughs Hughes, “I’ll stay away from that.”
His favorite cases, however, are those which involve a definitive storyline.
“DUI cases can be interesting and fun if there’s a story behind what happened our how it occurred- especially if it involves a constitutional violation of rights or a violation of civil liberties. Even in drug cases there are often times where police will raid someone’s home without having a proper search warrant. They’ll get one later and claim to have had it to begin with.
“In terms of drug cases, you’re able to directly interact with the client, to get them into rehab, or to get them into a program that affects their lifestyle choices immediately. It’s extremely rewarding.”
Not only is Hughes good at what he does, he understands the unique needs of the community.
“I’m openly gay,” he explains. “I don’t have a problem saying that. What I’ve found throughout the years I’ve been practicing law is that there’s somewhat of a legal community prejudice against people who are gay, especially when it comes to drug cases. Cops will often mistreat LGBT individuals, and sometimes there are jail issues that come up. I’m a practicing attorney who is a part of the community, which I feel lends to my ability to defend the community.”
Hughes is an active member of the GSDBA and the LGBT Bar Association.