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Christopher Van Wagner

About me

Christopher T. Van Wagner is a top-rated criminal defense attorney in Wisconsin with over 30 years of legal experience. With regard to sex crimes as well as vehicular homicide cases, Mr. Van Wagner has an impressive record of achieving positive results for his clients. Mr. Van Wagner has devoted the past 20 years of his practice to defending people charged with serious crimes such as sexual assault. Sexual assault cases are particularly difficult, given the nature of these types of crimes and the automatically negative public reaction to them. However, even if it means taking a sexual assault case to a jury trial, Mr. Van Wagner will ensure that justice is served for his clients.

Mr. Van Wagner brings a wealth of life experiences to his criminal law practice. As one of 11 children, Mr. Van Wagner was raised in a middle-class Irish Catholic family in New Jersey. He remains an avid New York Yankees fan. He attended St. Lawrence University where he earned honors in English Literature. Following his graduation from college, Mr. Van Wagner pursued an Ivy League law degree at Cornell Law School, where he was editor of the presigious Cornell Law Review. Following Cornell Law School (1981), Mr. Van Wagner obtained a coveted slot as clerk for a federal trial judge (Hon. Dick Debevoise, in Trenton, NJ). Following this clerkship, Mr. Van Wagner worked as a state prosecutor for the mean streets of Trenton, NJ, then was a Brooks Bros business litigator for the Fortune 500 clients of a world-renowned Chicago firm, Mayer Brown (on LaSalle Street). Chris later served as a federal prosecutor in Madison, Wisconsin.

In 1994, Mr. Van Wagner went into private practice where to this day he focuses on defending people accused of or convicted of serious crimes like sexual assault, vehicular homicide and the like. By demanding that a jury hear the case, Mr. Van Wagner has achieved many dismissals at the courthouse steps for clients in sex cases. He has gotten many “eve of trial” dismissals precisely because he has tried and won many so jury acquittals in his criminal defense career for clients who were falsely and wrongly accused of sex crimes, and other serious offenses. Not only does he command respect from prosecutors, Mr. Van Wagner also holds an “AV” rating with Martindale Hubbell, the highest peer rating available. He has been recognized numerous times as a Super Lawyer, an honor that applies only to the top 5% of attorneys in the State of Wisconsin. Additionally, Mr. Van Wagner has been a legal analyst and commentator on national shows such as Court TV, the Dan Abrams Report on MSNBC, the Today show, Good Morning America, ABC News as well as local shows such as ABC Madison's Channel 27 and Madison Channel 3000.


Practice areas


  1. Criminal Defense: 70%
  2. DUI & DWI: 25%
  3. Sex Crime: 5%



Fixed (always), Retainer (always), Free consultation (30 minutes)

Payment types:

Cash, Check, Credit card

Attorney endorsements

6 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • Karyn T. Missimer

    Chris is the lawyer's lawyer. His ability to frame the issues so judges and juries understand his client's position is unparalelled. Chris is the very definition of a zealous advocate. I would not hesitate to recommend Chris to a friend or family member in need.


    Karyn Missimer DUI & DWI Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

  • Scott Kenneth Petersen

    I was a municipal prosecutor and worked on many cases with Chris. He is an experienced and knowledgable attorney who works hard on behalf of his clients. Later, I referred a very difficult and complicated case to him and he achieved an excellent result. I recommend his services whole-heartedly.


    Scott Petersen Litigation Attorney
    Relationship: Opposing Counsel on matter

Contact info

Christopher T. Van Wagner

110 East Main Street
Suite 705
Madison, WI, 53703


WIGood Standing199403/20/2015
ILNot Authorized To Practice Law - Not Currently Registered,Has Not Demonstrated Required MCLE Compliance198911/12/2015
We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
AV Peer Review RatingMartindale-Hubbell2013
AV Peer Review RatingMartindale-Hubbell2012
AV Peer Review RatingMartindale-Hubbell2011
AV Peer Review RatingMartindale-Hubbell2010
Madison's Best Criminal Defense LawyersMadison Magazine2009
Wisconsin Super LawyerWisconsin Super Lawyers2009
Wisconsin Best DUI Defense AttorneysOWI-DUI.com2009
AV Peer Review RatingMartindale Hubbell2008
Wisconsin Super LawyersSuper Lawyers2008
Madison's Best Criminal Defense LawyersMadison Magazine2007
AV Peer-ratingMartindale Hubbell2007
Wisconsin Super LawyersSuper Lawyers2007
AV Peer-ratingMartindale-Hubbell2006
AV Peer-ratingMartindale Hubbell2006
AV Peer-ratingMartindale Hubbell2005
Madison's Best Criminal Defense LawyersMadison Magazine2005
AV Peer-ratingMartindale Hubbell2004
Madison's Best Criminal Defense LawyersMadison Magazine2003
AV Peer-ratingMartindale Hubbell2003
AV Peer-ratingMartindale Hubbell2002
AV Peer-ratingMartindale Hubbell2001
Madison's Best Criminal Defense LawyersMadison Magazine2001
AV Peer-ratingMartindale Hubbell2000
AV Peer-ratingMartindale Hubbell1999
AV Peer-ratingMartindale Hubell1998
AV Peer-ratingMartindale Hubbell1997
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
Managing PartnerVan Wagner Law Offices2014 - Present
ShareholderVan Wagner & Wood, S.C.1999 - 2014
Sole PractitionerVan Wagner Law Offices1994 - 1999
AUSAU.S. Attorney's Office, Madison WI1991 - 1994
Associate AttorneyMayer Brown & Platt1987 - 1991
Assistant Prosecutor, Felony CrimesMercer County (Trenton) NJ Prosecutor's Office1983 - 1987
Association namePosition nameDuration
National Association of Criminal Defense LawyersN/A1996 - Present
Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyers AssociationN/A1995 - Present
Dane County Bar AssociationN/A1995 - Present
Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense LawyersN/A1994 - Present
Legal cases
Case nameOutcome
State of Wisconsin vs. Innocent Young ManNot guilty on all counts.
State of Wisconsin vs. Sexual Assault DefendantNot guilty on all counts.
State of Wisconsin vs. Sexual Assault DefendantNot guilty on all counts.
See all legal cases 
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
Cornell Law SchoolLawJD - Juris Doctor1981
St Lawrence UniversityEnglish and LiteratureBA - Bachelor of Arts1978