Kathy Stump 2013-06-27 23:57:37
“The decision to become a lawyer always made sense to me. Arguing was second nature to me and my family always told me, ‘You might as well get paid for it,’” said Brian Thoman, who is now a solo practitioner criminal defense attorney located in Virginia Beach, Va. Thoman was born in Manhattan, N.Y., and was raised outside of the city in Northern New Jersey. Thoman credits his family with instilling in him the values and a respect for the rule of law that characterize his current practice. Defending his two younger siblings gave him a passion for helping others. Thoman also thanks his grandfather, who was involved in politics and law in Northern New Jersey, and who had a “huge impact on my life,” cultivating Thoman’s presiding belief that all citizens should be protected equally under the law. A 2006 graduate of Regent University School of Law, Thoman initially practiced in criminal defense, traffic and DUI, family law, civil litigation, and bankruptcy. In 2007, when the opportunity to join Virginia’s commonwealth attorney presented itself, Thoman leaped at the opportunity to serve the public—contributing to the community’s safety and providing justice. From the Newport News office of the commonwealth attorney, Thoman got his “legs for litigation,” handling a high case load, ranging from criminal and traffic misdemeanors, juvenile and domestic crimes, drug possession and distribution crimes, to white collar felonies, arson, and violent adult felonies, such as burglary, rape, and robbery. In this capacity, Thoman tried and negotiated cases before Virginia’s General District Courts, Juvenile and Domestic District Courts, and Circuit Courts. In 2013, Thoman moved on to establish his criminal defense practice, Thoman Law, PLLC, serving the greater Virginia Beach metropolitan area. This brought Thoman full circle, fulfilling his original reasons to practice law: to own and operate his own business, try cases and help his clients. His accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. The Newport News police chief recognized Thoman’s efforts in the community with the Outstanding Contribution to Law Enforcement Award in 2012. “It is a great honor to be recognized by such a hardworking, dedicated group of people,” said Thoman. Defending Your Rights Thoman’s experience with “both sides of the aisle” gives his clients an insider’s edge. Unlike many criminal lawyers, Thoman intimately knows how a prosecutor is likely to build a case against the defendant. Having prosecuted thousands of cases, Thoman has the expertise necessary to evaluate and analyze every element of a crime, taking stock of the evidence, and reviewing every piece of information used to build a case. As a prosecutor, Thoman asked himself, “What evidence will a defense attorney try to stifle?” Now, as a defense lawyer, he looks at the evidence and asks himself, “What will a prosecutor do to try to prove this case?” Without experience as a prosecutor, Thoman knows a defense attorney is less likely to know the specifics of the facts to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Having been both a prosecutor and now a defense attorney, Thoman has a unique perspective to determine which defense will best combat how the commonwealth will try to prove their case. Thoman is guided by the Constitution and the principles our rights were founded on. The legal procedures, such as how evidence is collected at a crime scene and how a judge instructs a jury were put into place to protect all citizens, not just a select few. “I would rather see 100 guilty people go free than see one innocent person go to jail,” said Thoman. We are innocent until proven guilty. Thoman combines his expertise with his commitment to the legal process to aggressively defend his clients, ensuring their constitutional rights are duly protected. “I am not afraid to aggressively challenge evidence and police reports,” he asserted. “Why Hire a Lawyer?” Perhaps Thoman’s biggest hurdle is overcoming people’s general reluctance to hire a lawyer when faced with a criminal problem. He finds it curious that many people are willing to risk jail, fees and the stigma of conviction instead of hiring a lawyer. “Ultimately the long-term cost of not hiring an attorney will be far greater,” Thoman said. His response to potential clients is, “Sure, there are small things you can handle, but would you pull your own tooth?” He thinks people, especially the innocent, hesitate to hire a lawyer because they “assume the system always works, but it doesn’t always work correctly.” In reality, a lot of little (and not so little) things can go wrong, says Thoman, adding, “witnesses can be mistaken, memories can be faulty, observations are wrong, at times, and a jury member may hold a hidden prejudice or bias. In the end, the decision comes down to who’s believable before a judge vs. who’s right. Any history you may have behind you can be incriminating.” Of course, the reverse of this scenario is also true. Because they are guilty, people often think, “What’s a lawyer going to do to help?” Thoman points out, “the burden of proof is on the state. A defense attorney makes sure the prosecutor’s actions are constitutional. A weak case is the state’s problem, not the defense.” Besides being procedurally correct, a prosecutor must prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. In Thoman’s experience, the most frequent examples of procedural mistakes that make a difference in a case come from police or prosecutorial errors: violations in evidence rules, illegal searches and seizures, or other infringements on constitutional rights. These types of errors can make evidence inadmissible at trial, and many people don’t know they have the right to object to the evidence being entered. Hiring a lawyer is vital, Thoman emphasizes. It helps someone navigate the above referenced issues because the lawyer plans for these contingencies. The lawyer’s experience, knowledge, and hard work can be the difference between a notguilty verdict and a loss of your liberty. Honesty, Integrity and Preparedness Thoman has a highly personal work style, developed largely during his tenure in the prosecutor’s office. He seeks to connect with each person, listening to make certain the client’s voice is heard and their needs are met, especially their sense of personal safety. Thoman pledges he can “defend anyone who walks through my door” and views each client as an individual, spending time with each person to understand them and how a criminal conviction may be a serious detriment to their lives and their families. “Using legal research, relevant case law, evaluation of the facts and scientific evidence, I draw on all of my skills to fight for my clients – and I have successfully handled thousands of cases in my career,” explained Thoman. Being charged with a crime, whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony, can be an extremely stressful time. Thoman recognizes this and takes every criminal charge seriously; he works swiftly, honestly and fairly to move clients toward a positive future. Additionally, Thoman offers free case evaluations to help potential clients discern their situation and develop a strategy for the best possible outcome. “I truly believe in providing only the highest quality representation to my clients by ensuring that they receive a fair trial.” Thoman’s breadth of experience has earned him a reputation among his peers and clients for honesty, integrity and preparedness. Eric Pohlner, the commonwealth attorney in Newport News, said, “Brian has successfully handled criminal cases ranging from DUI to murder. You can be sure that he will have a command of the facts of his case. Important for his clients, his experience as a former prosecutor gives him the insider’s knowledge which he can use to their great benefit.” Opposing counsel, Michael Ware, a defense attorney in Yorktown, Va., who regularly opposed Thoman during his tenure at the prosecutor’s office, noted Thoman’s “demonstrated… quick ability to analyze the case and present his side in the best format to bolster his strengths. His demeanor has always remained very professional and courteous to counsel, as well as all involved, while still demonstrating his confidence on his position. There is no doubt that Brian will be an extreme benefit to any client who has the privilege to have him as counsel.” Beyond Work Besides being dedicated to his work, Thoman remains close to his geographically distant family, crediting his success to their support. They served as his original sounding board. His wide-ranging interests include a love of any good food and viewing and analyzing movies, especially Alfred Hitchcock crime films; “To Catch a Thief ” and “Rear Window” are among his favorites. In fact, Thoman shared that if he hadn’t pursued law, he probably would have sought work in the film industry, or become an educator, to follow a long-honored family tradition. His love of movies prompted a natural question. Who is his favorite fictional lawyer? “I’ve learned more from reallife lawyers, including: Tim Clancy, Mike Ware, Ron Smith, Shawn Overby and Cathy Krinic,” said Thoman. When he’s not buffing up on his movies, Thoman is out enjoying the gifts of the great outdoors, particularly area beaches and scuba diving. Thoman earned his scuba diving certification in 2006 and goes out as much as possible. He has dived throughout the Caribbean, but his all-time favorite experience was interacting with manta rays during a nighttime dive near Kona, Hawaii. Swimming with the “huge, but calm, playful animals was other worldly,” said Thoman. Through scuba diving, Thoman has been able to visit some truly amazing places, but he doesn’t stop there. In 2004, he spent the summer studying international law at the University of Strasbourg, where he lived near his ancestral home in Alsace Province, France (near Rue Thoman). He spent his spare time traveling, sightseeing and enjoying the cultures of England, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy. Thoman takes an active part in his local community, and has volunteered for and donated to Habitat for Humanity and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
Published by Target Market Media . View All Articles.