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About me

Criminal, Civil and Appellate Litigation Counsel (see our numerous television, print and radio media mentions in the PUBLICATIONS section below)

Co-Owner: - Low Cost Uncontested Divorce Service.


Founder and Co-moderator: VADefenses Listserv Group.


Challenging cases handled include clients who faced the death penalty,  have falsely confessed to crimes, have been falsely accused of attacking the police, are absent from the trial, have been accused of causing "Shaken Baby Syndrome" or have been injured or killed by defective products. Represented clients in criminal and civil litigation, including capital murder, homicide, maiming, personal injury, products liability, workers' compensation, wrongful death and appellate cases. Appeared in television and in print media explaining intricate principles of criminal law, and promoting greater understanding of problems with the legal process. Have been in the forefront of developing and successfully presenting cutting edge new defenses in court such as for example being the first attorney to successfully advance the "residence" defense in regards to "Civil Remedial Fee" statute, or the first to exclude use of DUI certificates of analysis under new Supreme Court precedent, both of which occurred in Fairfax County. Cases have been featured in respected publications like The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Virginia Lawyer's Weekly. Personally handled thousands of cases and tried hundreds of jury trials, and am often consulted by colleagues for legal expertise in difficult litigation matters. Founded and co-moderate VADefenses Listserv, a forum for the ethical advancement of the adminstration of justice through the exchange of knowledge among practitioners in the field of criminal and traffic law. Serve as the current Co-chair of the Fairfax Bar Criminal Law Practice Section.


Representative appellate cases include: Enriquez v. Commonwealth, U. S. Supreme Court (pending for 2012); Sarwar v. Commonwealth, Va. App. Record. Nos. 0360-12-4 and 0468-12-4 (2012); Rueda v. Commonwealth, Va. Record No. 110521 (2011); Kozmina v. Commonwealth, 281 Va. 347 (2011);Commonwealth v. Centeno-Trejo, Va. App. Record No. 1529-10-4 (2010);Mitchell v. O'Brien, 09 Va. S. Ct. UNP 072633 (2009);Parada v. Commonwealth, 08 Vap UNP 0572074 (2008); Ayala v. Aggressive Towing and Transport, 276 Va. 169 (2008); Ford Motor Company v. Benitez, 273 Va. 242 (2007); Perez v. Commonwealth, 274 Va. 724 (2007),Lopez v. Commonwealth, Va. App. Record No. 3000-06-4 (2007); Perez v. Commonwealth, 06 Vap UNP 1431054 (2006); Estate of Garcia v. Electrifiers, Inc., 06 WC UNP 2137580 (2006); Commonwealth v. Martinez, 99 Vap UNP 0467994 (1999); Commonwealth v. Salazar, Va. App. Record No. 0141-99-4 (1999); Mejia v. Commonwealth, 23 Va. App. 173 (1996); Garcia v. Commonwealth, 21 Va. App. 445 (1995); Garcia v. Commonwealth, 19 Va. App. 574 (1995); Vasquez v. Commonwealth, 94 Vap UNP 2205924 (1994); Alvarenga v. Commonwealth, 93 Vap UNP 1667914 (1993).

Examples of media coverage of David and/or his cases:
1) Washington Post -
2) VA Lawyers Weekly -
3) New York Times Magazine -


* Disclaimer: Consult an attorney of your choice before relying on information posted by David Bernhard as a basis for any decision, action or inaction on your part, which information should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor constitute the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. CASE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE UNDERTAKEN BY A LAWYER.


Languages spoken: Spanish, German

Photos and videos

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Practice areas


  1. Criminal Defense: 38%
    27 years
  2. Speeding Ticket: 30%
    27 years
  3. DUI & DWI: 30%
    27 years
  4. Divorce: 2%
    13 years



Free consultation (30 minutes)

Payment types:

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Attorney endorsements

19 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • Paul L Mickelsen

    Much of what I have learned about how to be a lawyer I learned from David Bernhard. He's always on the cutting edge of novel defenses that other lawyers just haven't thought of. He's also not afraid to take on any kind of case and he finds ways to win! It seems I call him about once a month and he is always willing to share some of his wisdom with me. I absolutely endorse this lawyer.


    Paul Mickelsen Criminal defense Attorney
    Relationship: Co-worker

  • Jonathan Leo Phillips

    David Bernhard is an exceptional attorney I have known during my time as a prosecutor as well as a member of the defense bar. As a prosecutor I quickly learned Mr. Bernhard provides tireless advocacy in the most severe felony matters but importantly also gives the same effort and concern to his clients down to cases involving small infractions. Seeing his name on a case instantly commanded respect and an understanding that a thorough and impeccable defense was going to be provided. His efforts to assist all attorneys to improve in their practice of law is easily observed. Through educational seminars, administration of an attorney listserv, and even the development of free software applications, Mr. Bernhard continues to find ways to assist his peers. He is a steward of justice and protector of countless individuals who have been fortunate enough to have him as their attorney. I consider him an asset to the attorneys that practice in and around Fairfax County.


    Jonathan Phillips Criminal defense Attorney
    Relationship: Opposing Counsel on matter

Contact info

Bernhard & Gardner

6105-D Arlington Blvd.
(Falls Church)
Fairfax, VA



VAAuthorized to practice law198803/31/2016
DCActive 198707/05/2016
MOGood Standing, Active198601/08/2013
We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
Super LawyerSuperLawyers2016
Leaders in the Law AwardVirginia Lawyers Weekly2012
President's AwardFairfax Bar Association2011
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
PartnerBernhard & Gardner1991 - Present
ProprietorDavid Bernhard, Attorney at Law1989 - 1991
Association namePosition nameDuration
VADefenses ListservFounder and co-moderator2005 - Present
Maryland BarAdmitted to Practice1989 - Present
Virginia State BarAdmitted to Practice1988 - Present
District of Columbia BarAdmitted to Practice1987 - Present
Missouri BarAdmitted to Practice - non-resident1986 - Present
Fairfax Bar AssociationPanel Chair - Judicial Selection Committee2013 - 2013
Fairfax Bar AssociationScreener, Judicial Selection Committee2012 - 2014
Fairfax Bar AssociationMember, Membership taskforce2011 - 2011
Virginia Association of Criminal Defense LawyersMember2011 - 2014
Fairfax Bar AssociationCo-chair, Criminal Law Practice Section2011 - 2014
Domestic Violence Prevention, Policy Coordinating CouncilMember (Appointed by Fairfax County Executive)2010 - 2013
Hispanic Bar Association of VirginiaScreener, Judicial Selection Committee2006 - 2014
Legal cases
Case nameOutcome
Ford Motor Company v. Benitez, 273 Va. 242, 639 S.E.2d 203 (2007)Won on appeal in Supreme Court of Virginia.
Commonwealth v. Martinez, 99 Vap UNP 0467994 (1999)Case dismissed by the Court of Appeals of Virginia.
Ayala v. Aggressive Towing and Transport, 276 Va. 169, 661 S.E.2d 480 (2008)Won appeal in Supreme Court of Virginia.
See all legal cases 
Publication nameTitleDate
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyHigh court requires warrant for DUI blood test2016
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyA test for blood alcohol tests2016
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyLawyers challenge implied consent law2016
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyFairfax judge upholds Dulles toll bill of $81K2016
WTOPWoman faces $81K Dulles toll bill2016
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyCourt: $1,000 toll fine not unconstitutional2016
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyCourt Upholds Fourth-Offense Toll Fine2016
Rappahannock NewsAfter a day-long jury trial, motorist pleads guilty2016
Rappahannock News15 miles at 130 mph: 16 months2016
Fox 5 TVHuge E-ZPass Express Lane fines being challenged in court2015
Washington PostEx-Fairfax officer’s motions to move Geer murder trial, grant bond denied2015
Fox 5 TV2 E-Z Pass Express Lane fine cases dismissed by judge2015
WUSA 9 TVFairfax judge dismisses two Express Lanes lawsuits2015
WUSA 9 TVHOT Lanes trial puts Transurban on defense2015
WUSA 9 TVExpress Lanes trial puts Transurban on defense2015
Tollroadsnews.comDaily News Briefs for January 15, 2015 - Tough Day in Court for 495 Express2015
Washington PostJudge drops case of woman accused of failing to pay Beltway express lane tolls2015
Washington PostJudge tosses case seeking $10k in fees for late toll payment2015
Fox 5 TVDefense attorney unveils strategy to challenge huge E-ZPass Express Lane fines2015
WUSA 9 TVDisabled vet fights $500 Hot Lanes fine for trip2015
WUSA 9 TVCase dismissed against Dulles Toll Road driver2015
WUSA 9 TVDon Beyer Volvo Hit With Hot Lanes Violations2015
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyLawyers Challenge High Tolls From Fairfax Express Lanes2015
NBC 4 TVQuestions But No Verdict At Charles Severance Murder Trial2015
WTOP RadioAppeals court to hear $10,000 Express Lanes case2015
Fox 5 TVE-ZPass drivers getting refund for Express Lanes fines2015
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyToll Violation Charges Filed Too Late2015
WTOP RadioExpress Lanes operator might be breaking the law2015
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyKey fob use leads to DUI finding2015
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyCar Lights On, Key Fob in Hand Yields DUI2015
WUSA 9 TVHot Lanes Trial Set for Possible Dismissals and Refunds2015
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyHOT Lanes ruling could undermine past judgments2015
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyToll taker survives name challenge, past judgments vulnerable2015
Virginia Lawyers Weekly1-year limit put on HOT Lanes toll enforcement2015
WTOP RadioExpress Lanes operator loses another case in court2015
Detroit Legal NewsStand Up and Object. Now.2014
Washington PostGetting used to cameras in Virginia courtrooms2014
Washington PostPretrial filings reveal details in 2010 killing of Falls Church teen Vanessa Pham2013
Fox 5 TVDefense must live with evidence disclosure in Vanessa Pham murder case2013
Fairfax TimesUpcoming Fairfax trial to be televised2013
WUSA 9 TVPham trial Judge is pleased with decision to allow cameras2013
WUSA 9 TVBlanco Found Guilty, Jury Recommends 49 Years2013
WUSA 9 TVBREAKING: Blanco-Garcia Guilty In Murder Of Vanessa Pham2013
WJLA ABC 7 TVVanessa Pham expanded trial video2013
WUSA 9 TVDeliberations Underway in Pham Murder Case2013
WUSA 9 TVDefense rests in Pham murder trial2013
WUSA 9 TVMan Accused Of Killing Vanessa Pham Goes On Trial2013
WUSA 9 TVGrisly Testimony On Day 2 Of Pham Murder Trial2013
WTOP RadioJury finds Vanessa Pham's killer guilty2013
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyCourtroom Cameras Getting A New Look2013
WUSA 9 TVPham trial focuses on DNA evidence2013
Washington PostFairfax judge allows cameras in a trial for the first time since 1994, and that’s a good thing2013
Washington PostMan convicted of first-degree murder in Vanessa Pham killing2013
Washington PostMan convicted in Vanessa Pham slaying2013
UnivisionCupable de asesinato en primer grado Julio Blanco García2013
UnivisionJurado delibera el caso de Julio Blanco García2013
UnivisionJulio Blanco testifica durante su juicio2013
TelemundoInicia juicio de hispano acusado de asesinato2013
TelemundoNueva evidencia en juicio de Vanessa Pham2013
Fairfax TimesLawyers describe defense strategy in Pham murder case court filings2013
Washington PostIn Fairfax, cameras in the Pham murder trial: Not intrusive, but did they affect the sentence?2013
ABA JournalDefense lawyer says he didn’t call sentencing witness because of courtroom camera fear2013
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyAn ‘unzip’ drive: Defense bar pushing new rules for broader access to prosecutors’ files2013
WJLA ABC 7 TVVanessa Pham murder: Julio Blanco Garcia sentenced to 49 years2013
WUSA 9 TVJulio Blanco Garcia sentenced for murdering Vanessa Pham2013
Washington PostMan convicted of killing 19-year-old Vanessa Pham sentenced to 49 years in prison2013
FOX5 TV Washington DCVanessa Pham murderer sentenced to 49 years2013
Fairfax TimesVanessa Pham’s killer sentenced to 49 years2013
Washington University Law School MagazineDavid Bernhard Champions Diversity and Professionalism2013
Washington PostSuspect in murder of Falls Church woman was tracking probe, according to warrant2013
WJLA ABC 7 TVVanessa Pham trial: Jury deliberating Julio Blanco Garcia's fate2013
WTOP RadioJury finds Vanessa Pham's killer guilty2013
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyJudges face scrutiny before courts committees2013
NBC 4 TVCollege student was stabbed after she offered her killer a ride2013
NBC 4 TVImages from the Vanessa Pham murder trial2013
Virginia Lawyers Weekly BlogHispanic bar rates two highly qualified for Court of Appeals2012
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyRules of Evidence a ‘sea change’ for trial practice2012
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyPresenting the ‘Leaders in the Law’ Class of 20122012
Fairfax Bar JournalExamining the Limits on Retroactive Criminalization of Conduct by Judicial Interpretation of Statutes - The DUI "Operation" Example2012
Washington PostFingerprint match led to suspect in 2010 slaying of 19-year-old Falls Church woman2012
Fairfax TimesSuspect charged in Vanessa Pham murder case2012
WJLA ABC 7Vanessa Pham's family hopes arrest brings justice2012
Washington TimesVa. man appeals to Supreme Court over DUI conviction2012
Fairfax Bar JournalRevisiting the Statutory Power to "Suspend the Imposition of Sentence"2011
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyProsecutor Can Pursue First-Offense Breath Test Refusal2011
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyAppeals court to consider shaken baby case2011
FBA Annual Criminal Law CLEMinefileds of Virginia Appellate Practice - Issues You Should Consider2010
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyFinding long-distance legal help2010
Virginia Lawyers Weekly'Deferred judgment’ practice on hold2010
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyFee waiver program will run out of money in May2010
Washington PostLatino Lawyer Among Candidates for Bench2009
Washington PostDefendants Have Right To Confront Analysts of Forensics, Court Rules2009
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyKaine calls special session on lab techs2009
Washington PostHigh Court Ruling Voids DWI Case In Fairfax County2009
Virginia Lawyer (Virginia State Bar)The Ways of a Gentle Warrior (by President Capsalis)2009
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyFollowing new case, judge tosses DUI charge2009
Washington PostVa. Rushes To Address Ruling on Analysts2009
Washington PostLatino Lawyer Among Candidates for Bench2009
Washington PostDefendants Have Right To Confront Analysts of Forensics, Court Rules2009
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyNegligence - Auto Accident - Nonparty Guilty Plea - Drunken Driving2008
Washington PostDavid Stitt, 65; Fairfax County Circuit Judge2008
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyCriminal - Felon In Possession - Juvenile Adjudication - Undated Order2007
FBA Annual Criminal Law CLEPractice Tips Regarding Field Tests Foundation, Roadblocks, Intoxilyzer Records, Refusal and More2007
Washington PostVa. Courts Brace for Avalanche of Bad-Driver Cases2007
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyLawyer sanctions upheld2007
Washington PostN.Va. Air Bag Case Against Ford Begins; Woman Contends Device Blinded Her2006
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyAttorneys - Sanctions - Products Liability - Unsubstantiated Defenses2005
Washington PostCharges Dropped, Then Filed Anew in Pr. William Gang Slaying2005
Washington PostVa. Machete Victim Says Teen Led Gang Attack; Merrifield Assault Cost Man 3 Fingers2005
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyNegligence - Auto Accident - Spoliation2005
Washington PostAttorney Protests Legal Maneuvers In MS-13 Slaying2005
Washington PostVa. Machete Victim Says Teen Led Gang Attack; Merrifield Assault Cost Man 3 Fingers2005
Washington PostBond Revoked For Child Molester2004
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyTraffic Offenses - DUI - Roadblock Stop2001
Washington PostVictimized Woman Faces Deportation; System Designed to Help 'Turned Against' Mother Who Can't Speak English2000
Virginia Lawyers WeeklySearch & Seizure - Exigent Circumstances - Domestic Violence1999
Washington PostInfants Force-Fed, Worker Says; Defendant Absent as Arlington Day-Care Abuse Trial Opens1999
Washington PostMistrial in Arlington Day-Care Assault Case1999
Washington PostArlington Teen Charged With Killing His Parents1998
Washington Times17-year old confesses to killing his parents1998
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyJurors' fear does not reflect bias1998
Washington PostBuilding Trust; With Mini-Stations and Other Efforts, Fairfax Police Court Goodwill of Latino Community1997
Virgnia Lawyers WeeklyTraffic Offenses - Illegal Consumption Of Alcohol - Burden Of Proof1996
Washington PostJury Calls for 2 Life Terms in Murder1995
Washington PostMurderer Gets 2 Life Sentences1995
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyEvidence - Hearsay - Murder - Reference To Tension Between Defendant & Victim1995
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyTrial Report No. 95-T7, Negligence1995
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyTrial Report No. 95-T8, Negligence1995
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyCriminal - Adult Status Of Defendant - Robbery & Firearms1994
Virginia Lawyers WeeklyCriminal - Larceny - Value Of Property - Sufficiency - Auto 'Spoiler'1993
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
Washington University School of LawN/AJD - Juris Doctor1985
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
FBA ConventionBest Practices and Sentencing Alternatives in GDC, JDR and Circuit Courts CLE: A Panel Presentation on Criminal and Traffic Cases2015
Fairfax County Bar AssociationVoir Dire and Jury Selection for the Civil and Criminal Practitioner2014
African and African-American Heritage ConferenceIs justice Color Blind?2013
NOVABAAVirginia's New Rules of Evidence2012
Fairfax County Bar AssociationVirginia's New Rules of Evidence - A Primer CLE2012
Fairfax County Bar AssociationFBA Annual Criminal Law CLE2010
Fairfax County Bar AssociationThe Art of Presenting & Opposing Expert Testimony CLE2010
Fairfax County Bar AssociationFBA Annual Criminal Law CLE2009
Fairfax County Bar AssociationFBA Annual DUI CLE2007
Mark Levine's Inside Scoop Radio ProgramDr. Russell Libby, Former President of the Northern Virginia Medical Society debates Trial Attorney David Bernhard2005