Humanizing a criminal defendant presented in front of prosecutors, jurors, and judges is one of the most challenging aspects of being an effective defense attorney.
Attorney Ricky Hernandez believes mastering this difficult skill requires experiencing many angles of the criminal justice system such as he has as a young defendant, rookie prosecutor, tragic victim, and, now, talented advocate.
This biography describes each role Attorney Hernandez has played to morph into a rising star in the Texas criminal defense realm.
A criminal defense attorney’s success relies on a strong understanding of how law enforcement operates. Hernandez’s intimate knowledge comes from growing up as the son of a Houston police officer in Pearland, Texas.
At an early age, he recognized the black and white mindset of a police officer is fundamentally different from the “grey” mindset he possessed. By living with an officer and spending time around others at the police stations, he figured out how to positively interact with law enforcement despite frequently having different opinions and outlooks.
However, growing up in a police household wasn’t Hernandez’s only interaction with law enforcement. In 2013, while protecting himself in a bar fight, he encountered the criminal justice system as a defendant. Charged with assault, he quickly learned that even the innocent can find themselves at the mercy of the State.
Ricky experienced first-hand the anxiety and stress his clients go through every time they appear at the courthouse. He personally felt the scrutiny of being assumed guilty simply because you arrive at the courthouse a defendant. Although he was exonerated, those feelings of helplessness will never be forgotten.
At the moment his case was finally dismissed, Hernandez realized that he wanted to pursue a career as an attorney to stand up for the unjustly accused.
Hernandez knew education would be the foundation for success in his desired career and was extremely motivated to attend law school. He finished his first year ranked number 1 in his class and received the full-term scholarship that Thurgood Marshall School of Law awards the top 10% of each class. For the next two years, he persisted on his path of academic achievement and graduated as Valedictorian of his class in 2017.
Hernandez first joined the Harris County Prosecutor’s Office as an Assistant District Attorney to gain invaluable insider experience by living the day-to-day life of a prosecutor and interacting with his coworkers. During his ADA tenure, he negotiated plea deals, won his first trial, and faced the stress employees of the State are under working a docket with hundreds of cases every day.
It wasn’t long before Hernandez left to follow his initial dream and become a voice for those without one. However, shortly after launching his own criminal defense firm, Third Coast Law LLC, Hernandez found himself as a “victim” of the very people he had chosen to defend…
On March 24, 2019, Hernandez learned that his mother, Belinda Hernandez, a local elementary school librarian, had been shot and killed in his family home. He then found out his father, a police officer of over 25 years, was the likely killer and that he would await trial for murder in Brazoria County. Hernandez’s world was turned upside down.
Anyone can say that “everyone deserves their day in court” when they’ve never lost a loved one to crime. It’s easy to advocate for the accused when you’ve never been a victim. But as a victim, after a loved one is stolen, how could Hernandez not have his principals and his sense of justice tested? Would he stay true to the ideal that every American deserves Due Process or would he harbor a grudge against those suspected of a crime?
Hernandez believes that a human who abandons their ideals in the face of adversity is one without conviction. His convictions would never change and he would never stop fighting for the freedom of his fellow Americans.
Every day since that call, and even after his father was sentenced to 40 years for the murder of his mother, Hernandez perseveres in his work and strives to achieve the Constitutional ideal that we are all INNOCENT until proven guilty.
Today, Hernandez leads the criminal defense division as a Senior Associate at J.D. Silva & Associates PLLC, a burgeoning personal injury and criminal defense firm in Pearland, Texas. From his hometown, Hernandez zealously advocates for all his clients and puts his life experience to work throughout Harris, Brazoria, and Galveston counties.