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About me



Josh was born and raised in Miami-Dade County.  The son of two small business owners, he learned the value of hard work and a good name at an early age.  He attended high school at MAST Academy where he was heavily involved in the only Coast Guard Junior ROTC program in the country.  After serving aboard the United State Coast Guard Barque Eagle, Josh left high school early to matriculate at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. 


Josh graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology in 2000.  His last semester was spent completing an Internship at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s where he was assigned to the predecessor of the Early Representation Unit.  His experience there solidified his decision to attend law school and focus his career on criminal defense.


While in law school, he served as the Recent Developments Editor for The Journal of Transnational Law & Policy in 2001-2002.  He was then elected Editor in Chief for 2002-2003.  While the Recent Developments Editor, he wrote and published a series of articles discussing the passage of laws designed to combat terrorism in the wake of the 9-11 tragedies.  His articles have been cited numerous times as one of the early pieces on laws such as the Patriot Act.  Josh graduated with his Juris Doctor degree cum laude in 2003.  Although he had a strong desire to be a criminal defense attorney, he was lead in a different direction during his second year of law school.


Upon graduation, Josh moved to Daytona Beach, Florida where he worked as an Associate for Cobb Cole, East Central Florida’s oldest law firm.  While at Cobb Cole, Josh was a litigation associate and gained experience in a broad spectrum of law, including, but not limited to, civil and commercial litigation, employment discrimination defense, shareholder disputes, intellectual property litigation, education law, sunshine and public records law, environmental and land use litigation, family law, and local government law.  He had the honor of learning from some of the most highly regarded attorneys in their fields and uses the knowledge gained in his practice today.


Although he enjoyed working at Cobb Cole, over time the calling of criminal law became louder.  In June 2005, Josh became an Assistant State Attorney in the Seventh Circuit of Florida.  He spent the next 16 months handling cases ranging from DUI to Sexual Battery.  He always knew the State Attorney’s Office was a launching pad to return to private practice devoting his practice to criminal defense.  In September 2006, he returned to Tallahassee, Florida and opened a firm with three other attorneys.  Josh was grateful for the opportunity to return to Tallahassee but in an effort to provide a higher level of service to his clients, he opened Joshua D. Zelman, P.A. in 2008. 


Joshua D. Zelman, P.A. focused on providing clients with representation in criminal defense, family law, and personal injury matters.  Josh expanded his firm in October 2013 by welcoming James Heath.  By doing this, Josh was able to expand the range of services he could offer his clients.  Josh changed the firm name to Zelman Law in 2014.


Josh continues to focus his practice in criminal defense, especially the representation of those charged with DUI, felony drug offenses, violent felony offenses, sexual offenses, and property crimes.  Josh was the first attorney in North Florida to successfully obtain the dismissal of criminal charges based on the Stand Your Ground law (State of Florida v. Jeffrey Brown, 17 Fla. L. Weekly Supp 651b (Second Circuit, Fla. May 17, 2010)).  He later litigated the right of a court appointed attorneys to fair compensation in non-capital cases and clarified the analysis courts are required to conduct to establish fees in such cases. Zelman v. Justice Administrative Commission, 78 So.3d 105 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012).  He has also successfully asserted temporary insanity to a jury as a defense to Attempted First Degree Murder.



Josh is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell and holds a superb rating from  He was selected as one of the Top 40 Lawyers Under 40 for Criminal Defense by the American Society of Legal Advocates for 2014.  Josh is a member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a Chapter Representative for the Tallahassee Chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and is a member of the Criminal Law, Family Law and Trial Layers Sections of The Florida Bar.


Practice areas


  1. Criminal Defense: 50%
    11 years
  2. Personal Injury: 15%
    6 years
  3. DUI & DWI: 15%
    12 years
  4. Civil Rights: 10%
    5 years
  5. Wrongful Death: 10%
    6 years



Contingent (25-40%), Fixed (sometimes), Retainer (sometimes)

Payment types:

Cash, Check, Credit card

Attorney endorsements

8 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • Michael S. Waddington

    I endorse Joshua. He is a highly skilled attorney that is well respected in the legal community.


    Michael Waddington Military law Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

  • John Clint Wallace

    Josh is an excellent attorney. I would not hesitate to recommend him.


    John Wallace Personal injury Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

Contact info

Zelman Law

517 East College Avenue
Tallahassee, FL, 32301


FLMember in Good Standing200306/21/2016
We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
AV Preeminent RatedMartindale-Hubbell2016
AV Preeminent RatedMartindale-Hubbell2015
AV Preeminent RatedMartindale-Hubbell2014
Top 40 Lawyers Under 40American Society of Legal Advocates2014
AV Preeminent RatedMartindale-Hubbell2013
AV Preeminent RatedMartindale-Hubbell2012
AV Peer Review RatingMartindale-Hubbell2011
BV RatedMartindale-Hubbell2009
Distinguished Service AwardVolusia County Teen Court2005
Distinquished Service AwardVolusia County Teen Court2004
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
Managing PartnerZelman Law2008 - Present
MemberDurst, Harnden & Zelman, PL2006 - 2008
Assistant State AttorneyOffice of State Attorney-7th Circuit2005 - 2006
Associate AttorneyCobb & Cole2003 - 2005
Association namePosition nameDuration
American Society of Legal AdvocatesMember2014 - Present
Tallahassee Bar AssociationMember2014 - Present
Florida Association of Criminal Defense LawyersChapter Representative2013 - Present
Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers-Tallahassee ChapterMember2008 - Present
Florida Association of Criminal Defense LawyersMember2007 - Present
National College of DUI DefenseGeneral Member2015 - 2016
Florida Justice AssociationMember2015 - 2016
Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers-Tallahassee ChapterChapter Secretary2011 - 2012
J. Layne Smith’s Circuit Judge Committee, Group 9, Second Judicial CircuitCommittee Member2009 - 2010
Legal cases
Case nameOutcome
Avellone v. AvelloneAppellate Court affirmed ruling in client's favor
State of Florida v. Robert M. KellyNot Guilty
See all legal cases 
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
Florida State University College of LawN/AJD - Juris Doctor2003
Florida State UniversityCriminologyBS - Bachelor of Science2000
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
Law CallFamily Law2013
Florida's Stand Your Ground Law: Where Do We Go From Here?Stand Your Ground2013