Mr. Elsea is a graduate of the University of Richmond. He majored in History, gaining membership in Phi Alpha Theta for academic achievement. Joel was also a captain of the NCAA Division I swim team.
Joel came to Stetson University College of Law for one reason: to study in the nation’s best Trial Advocacy program. Mr. Elsea’s course work and extra-curricular activities while in law school reflect that focus. Joel earned the Victor O. Whele award by getting the highest grade in his Trial Advocacy class. He was trusted to serve as a teaching assistant to two other Trial Advocacy classes, each taught by adjunct professors. Joel was selected as a member of Stetson’s prestigious Trial Team. He represented his school all over the country, competing as an advocate in Jacksonville, Miami, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. Upon graduation, Mr. Elsea was conferred membership in The Order of Barristers and The International Academy of Trial Lawyers.
Mr. Elsea served as a judicial intern to the Hon. Brandt C. Downey, III and Hon. Amy Williams in the Sixth Judicial Circuit (Pinellas County), each of whom presided over a criminal docket. Joel was selected as a Certified Legal Intern in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County) during his last year of law school, leading to his position as an Assistant State Attorney.
As a prosecutor, Joel started handling juvenile, traffic, and misdemeanor cases. As a felony prosecutor for over a decade, Mr. Elsea was assigned lead attorney on thousands of cases. This gave him the opportunity to see how criminal cases are built from investigation through trial and sentencing. As a Lead Trial Attorney and as a Deputy Division Chief, Joel was trusted to supervise other attorneys and to make decisions on which cases went to jury trial. Among the cases Mr. Elsea tried to verdict were homicide (including first degree murder, second degree murder, and manslaughter), arson, kidnapping, robbery, drug trafficking, and conspiracy. Other days in court were filled with bond motions, VOP hearings, pre-trial “stand your ground” immunity hearings, and motions to suppress evidence.
In 2017, Mr. Elsea earned the opportunity to work for a Florida-based national law firm that pioneered the representation of nursing home abuse and neglect victims. He pursued negligence and wrongful death claims against elder care facilities and the well-funded management companies and executives that kept them understaffed. Joel gained a greater understanding that people who are facing serious consequences against powerful forces in the courtroom need an experienced and effective voice. Joel opened The Elsea Criminal Defense Law Firm in Tampa in 2020.