Why are you a criminal defense attorney?
Dating back to junior high school, I have intentionally focused all my efforts on social justice, which I define as, "The ability people have to realize their potential in the society in which they live." All too often, social justice however is really just social injustice. I recognized this fact at a young age. When I was ten I started working for the FALLS Adventure (Family And Leadership Life Skills) a non-profit charity serving families in in our community that are in need. We focused on teaching life skills and effective strategies, such as problem solving, negotiating differences, achieving goals, accountability and positive change as a means to obtaining social justice. Over the years, I helped families caught in all kinds of addiction, men and women linked to prostitution and crime, youth and adults affected by the justice system, middle and upper class families torn by divorce and bad choices, and boys and girls of poverty attempting to find success in life. In all of these situations, with each person served, my approach was to model and teach effective leadership and life skills so they could better achieve their own potential in society, so they could achieve their own justice.
Why did you attend law school?
At some point after college, I came to the realization that simply teaching people skills and strategies was not enough. Or perhaps I should say it was not fast enough for me. I needed to be more involved, more in control of the process. I needed to shape the process. Law school was the obvious solution. I remember an occasion during law school at the conclusion of a moot court competition that my professor called me a bulldog. Most women would not take this description as a compliment. I did! Within months of passing the bar on my first attempt, a court bailiff commented to me at the conclusion an important hearing for my client, "Ms. Hatfield, you are a Rottweiler!" True again! I am dedicated, determined, and I work the facts and the law of my cases endlessly too achieve the best possible result for my client.
Please tell me about your first jury trial.
My first jury trial as lead counsel resulted in a not guilty verdict for my client. Now let me tell you what he was charged with: he was charged with raping his cousin. The basis for this case started years ago with my client's mother and her sister. Women are not supposed to defend such cases, right? I defend anyone. And I always look beneath the surface. My investigation revealed that the two of them do not like each other because of supposed favoritism by their mother. Flash forward thirty years and my client was accused of raping his cousin. The only catch was my client did not actually commit the heinous crime he was accused of and the jury agreed with me. In about 22 minutes. Think about that for a moment. Imagine being accused of something absolutely awful because your aunt does not like your mother over something their mother did to them years ago. How would that make you feel? This is just one example of many. I have freed my clients from life sentences at the state and federal level. I have won motions to dismiss and motions to suppress. I work tirelessly. Endlessly. Aggressively. And I do it all for my clients.
Why do you only practice criminal defense?
I have devoted my entire legal career to criminal defense work. This is my way to positively affect injustice. I understand the importance of my role in the life of my clients, and therefore I take on a limited number of cases in order to ensure that each receive the personalized attention that is required and deserved. And I love to win.
What is your educational background?
I am a graduate of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and I subsequently earned my law degree from Stetson University College of Law in Saint Petersburg, Florida. I am admitted to practice law in federal and state courts at both the trial and appellate levels in the State of Florida. I accept cases throughout the entire state of Florida, including but not limited to Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Orange, Marion, Putnam, Alachua, Manatee, Levy, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Glades, Hernando, Highlands, Polk, and Sumter Counties.
If you need me, I will fight for you.
Areas Of Practice
- State Criminal Defense
- State Criminal Appeals and Post-Conviction Motions Federal Criminal Defense
- Federal Criminal Appeals and Post-Conviction Motions
- U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida
- U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida
- Stetson University College of Law, St. Petersburg, Florida
- Bucknell University
- Strategies For Defending Identity Theft Cases, Aspatore, 2012
Past Employment Positions
- Office of the Pinellas County State Attorney Clerk Sixth Judicial Circuit