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About Me

I began my law career clerking for my father, a former judge in Phoenix, Arizona. We discussed rulings in cases as we commuted to Cave Creek, AZ. My father was a graduate of Northwestern Law School and a former Assistant United States Attorney. I graduated from Arizona State University with a BS in Economics and later attended California Western School of Law.

My first job was with Federal Defenders of San Diego. I found myself recalling many of the converstations my father and I had concerning the Fourth Amendment to the United States Consititution. I received the American Jurisprudence Award in trial practice. My father tried a case with ,Chief Justice William Renquist when he was a counsel for Arizona Title. But, the most importatnt factor was always getting want the client needed. That is, to put their life back together.

Now, as the founder of San Diego Defenders, I feel a responsibility to share some of the knowledge passed on to me to the other attorneys at the law firm. Every Friday, our firm has a "round table" to discuss the unique issues in each case. We practice law as if each client is our only client.


Languages Spoken: Spanish

Photos and Videos

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Practice Areas


  1. DUI & DWI: 50%
    25 years, 2.5 thousand cases
  2. Criminal Defense: 35%
    25 years, 1.5 thousand cases
  3. White Collar Crime: 5%
    25 years, 100 cases
  4. Speeding & Traffic Ticket: 5%
    25 years, 1.5 thousand cases
  5. Federal Crime: 5%
    25 years, 500 cases



Fixed (Always)

Payment Types:

Cash, Check, Credit Card

Attorney Endorsements

20 total 

  • Jon Martin Pettis

    I endorse this lawyer. Dan Smith is one of the most skillful defense attorneys I have known in my 15 years of practice in San Diego. When you add to that how sincerely concerned about his clients he is, it is a combination that makes an excellent advocate. Whether it is negotiating a plea or taking the case to trial, I would tust him to handle any criminal matter.


    Jon Pettis DUI & DWI Attorney
    Relationship: Co-worker

  • Michael Stephen Berg

    I have know Dan for over 10 years. He is a terrific attorney and very dedicated to his work. He has an excellent reputation throughout all courts in San Diego County with judges, prosecutors and fellow criminal defense attorneys. He is knowledgeable in the law and is a tireless advocate on behalf of his clients.


    Michael Berg Federal Crime Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

Contact Info

San Diego Defenders

585 3rd Ave
Chula Vista, CA, 91910


AZActive 199105/27/2015

Professional Misconduct

We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo Contributions
Legal Answers
Award NameGrantorDate Granted
American Jurisprudence Award - Trial PracticeAmerican Jurisprudence1989
Work Experience
TitleCompany NameDuration
Founder Supervising AttorneySan Diego Defenders, APC2011 - Present
Supervising AttorneyDS Criminal Law Group2011 - Present
Lead Trial AttorneyUnited Trial Group APC2010 - 2011
Lead Trial Attorney South Bay DistrictPacific Law Center, San Diego, Ca2008 - 2010
Trial AttorneyLaw Offices of Daniel M. Smith1993 - 2008
Trial LawyerFederal Defenders of San Diego, Inc.1992 - 1993
Association NamePosition NameDuration
National Association of Criminal Defense LawyersMember1991 - Present
California Attorneys for Criminal JusticeMember1991 - Present
Legal Cases
Case NameOutcome
People v. Jose GarciaDeterminate Sentence of 22 years
People v. MarquezJury Trial - Not Guilty Verdict
People v. Bradley Austin SmithVoluntary manslaughter w/knife 12 year determinite sentence
See all Legal Cases 
School NameMajorDegreeGraduated
California Western School of LawLawJD - Juris Doctor1990
Arizona State UniversityEconomicsBS - Bachelor of Science1988
Speaking Engagements
Conference NameTitleDate
Guest Lecturer - GovernmentCriminal Procedure - Case Study2013
Public Interest Law Foundation ConferenceStarting your Criminal Defense Career as a Federal Public Defender2010