Joseph Teller was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from the College of Wooster in Ohio and the University of Michigan Law School. He returned to New York City, where he spent three years as an agent with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (the precursor of the Drug Enforcement Administration), doing undercover work. For the next 35 years, he worked as a criminal defense attorney, representing murderers, drug dealers, thieves and at least one serial killer. When New York State restored the death penalty in the nineties, Teller was one of a select group of lawyers given special training to represent capital defendants, which he did on several occasions, including winning an acquittal for a man accused of committing a double murder.
Not too long ago, Teller decided to "run from the law," and began writing fiction. He lives and writes in rural upstate New York with his wife, Sandy, an antiques dealer.