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Christopher Van Wagner

Criminal defense Attorney at Madison, WI

4.4   7 reviews
  • State Years
    Wisconsin - WI 29 years
    Illinois - IL 35 years
  • Licensed for 29 years
    State WI
    Acquired 1994
    Status
    Good Standing No misconduct found
  • Licensed for 35 years
    State IL
    Acquired 1989
    Status
    Administrative - Not Authorized to Practice No misconduct found

We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.

About Christopher

Learn Christopher’s areas of practice.

3
Practice areas
  1. Criminal defense
    50%

    33 years, 2,000 cases

  2. DUI and DWI
    25%

    33 years, 500 cases

  3. Sex crime
    25%

    33 years, 250 cases

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.

Location

Christopher T. Van Wagner
110 East Main Street
Suite 705
Madison, WI, 53703

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Reviews

4.4 / 5.0
  7 customer reviews
5 Star
 
86%
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14%
Posted by anonymous | July 3, 2023
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
A great attorney
I absolutely recommend Christopher Van Wagner. He really came through for my son during an extremely hard time. My son was facing serious felony charges for inappropriate conversations over social media with an 17 year old. We finished court today with a disorderly conduct.no probation.and a small fine. I’m so happy we had Chris on our side. I feel he went above and beyond for my son like he would have his own .He is super smart and had the best intentions for a positive outcome. I would highly recommend!!! Thanking God today!
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Posted by Nicolas | October 21, 2021
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Not Guilty Second Degree Sexual Assault Trial
CVW is the guy you need to hire if you’re in legal trouble. CVW will give you the best defense counsel possible. CVW helped me prove my innocence in trial for a terrifying situation that could have ruined my life. When you hire anyone for anything you want the person with the most experience and discipline. Thank you for saving my livelihood CVW!
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Posted by Nancy | March 3, 2020
This review is from a potential client who consulted with this attorney.
| Consulted Attorney
Van Wagner law office review
Chris took the time to speak with us, after calling many others that would not give us the time of day. We needed guidance on a letter that needed to be submitted within 10 days. Not only did he help us with the letter, but pointed us in the right direction for the next steps as well. Refreshing to see in todays society. Thank you Chris! We will definitely be recommending him to others.
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Posted by Tou | April 27, 2016
This review is from a potential client who consulted with this attorney.
| Consulted Attorney
Saved my possible future career as a Pharmacist
Just got off the phone with Chris. I had a battery citation and Chris gave me free useful and honest advice because hiring a lawyer would have been more expensive then paying for the citation. He told me his price but gave me life changing advice on what I should do and what to expect and how my decisions now will affect my chances of becoming a pharmacist. After the phone call, I called the prosecutor and made a deal over the phone to amend my battery to a disorderly conduct if I complete one year hold open and provide proof of completing a alcohol assessment class. Moving forward, if I know anyone in trouble with DUI, sexual assault, or any case needing a attorney, I would recommend Chris.
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Posted by Shawn | April 13, 2016
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Super Lawyer!
Over the last couple years, my family has needed a criminal defense attorney more than I’d care to admit. Fortunately, a friend told us about Chris Van Wagner. Thank god for that friend. For me, college educated, a successful career and the mother of four, I never thought that at 41, I would find myself in the back of a squad car refusing a breathalyzer after just a few cocktails. Well, that is where i ended up. I was completely unprepared and had no clue how bad an idea it was to refuse a breath test. But, the moment I retained Chris, I was able to relax and retain my driver's license. I just let Chris work his "magic" behind the scenes. His retainer fee, though expensive, was well worth it!! I didn’t pay for a bunch of shuffling papers, needless phone calls, or effort that was pointless. That sort of lawyer "stuff" doesn’t get charges reduced or dropped. What I did pay for was magic, at least in my view. Chris somehow turned my OWI and my unwise decision to refuse a breath test into “Operation w/o Headlights On” & another similar moving violation, instead of an automatic, long license suspension and the embarrassing requirement of an alcohol interlock device (IID) in my car. Yes, I paid fines and yes I lost some points; BUT with Chris, I was able to avoid the OWI and, as a result, keep my job and my career. Heck, I would have paid triple those fines to avoid an OWI. But Chris managed to get it dropped. And this was even after he warned me ahead of time NOT to expect the OWI to be dismissed. Then, Chris warned me not to get any more tickets, not even speeding tickets. So what did I do? Yep. Just six months later I got stopped for speeding (37 in a 25), which could have also cost me my license. And again, Chris worked wonders. He got it reduced to zero points and no CCAP record!!! So, I once again have a clear license. Then my daughter’s fiancé got stopped for drunk driving. I called Chris right away. He did a FREE review of the case, and then said it would be a waste of money to hire him on the case. When have you EVER heard of an attorney so honest he refused to take your money, calling it a waste? Wow. Finally, just this year, my young adult son was charged with “Sexual Assault of a Child” - right before he was supposed to leave for boot camp with the Marines! As I said, Chris isn’t cheap, but once again, he managed even more "magic" for my family. He somehow was able to get ALL charges dismissed without even an arrest or a court hearing. Instead, he quickly put together an amazing, creative proposal for the DA to drop the charges so long as my son followed a long list of restrictions AND served his entire enlistment AND get an honorable discharge four years from now. Chris literally saved my son's career, his freedom and his life. Chris did all of this even though none of us ever had to set foot in a courtroom. All he told us to do was be patient and follow his advice. We all benefited immensely from Chris's work on our cases. In fact, the things Chris Van Wagner did for my family more than paid back the fees we paid him - at least tenfold, when we look at the money saved on insurance premiums, IID costs, lost wages, lost jobs, and loss of a promising military career, not to mention my son not having to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life - and did I mention the incredible stress and worry Chris spared us all with his amazingly successful efforts? Let me just say this. If you don’t hire Chris Van Wagner, you're just dumb. He really is a "Super Lawyer".
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Posted by anonymous | May 4, 2010
Outstanding Legal Representation!
Attorney Van Wagner represented me. The charge was sexual assault of a person under 18. Chris was great. I recommend him to anyone charged with a sex crime. He knows the law, the courts, how to handle the case, what to do, etc. He turned what could have been a ruin to my life into a good outcome.
Posted by anonymous | November 12, 2020
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Not Worth the hassle
Mr. Van Wagner is the worst attorney I've ever had the experience of coming across. He puts very little effort into acting on his clients' behalf while spinning a yarn that he's God's gift to the legal profession. He rarely, if ever, makes an effort to meets with clients in person and insists on conducting business via email leaving no opportunity for follow up questions or explanations. You'd be wise to look elsewhere for representation unless you are okay with overpaying for sub-par representation.
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Cost

Rates
  • Free Consultation 30 minutes
  • Retainer Always
Payment methods
Cash, Check, Credit Card

Resume

AVVO RATING 10.0 (Superb)

Work Experience

  • Managing Partner
  • Van Wagner Law Offices
  • 2014 - Present
  • Shareholder
  • Van Wagner & Wood, S.C.
  • 1999 - 2014
  • Sole Practitioner
  • Van Wagner Law Offices
  • 1994 - 1999
  • AUSA
  • U.S. Attorney's Office, Madison WI
  • 1991 - 1994
  • Associate Attorney
  • Mayer Brown & Platt
  • 1987 - 1991
  • Assistant Prosecutor, Felony Crimes
  • Mercer County (Trenton) NJ Prosecutor's Office
  • 1983 - 1987
View all work experience

Education

  • Cornell Law School
  • JD - Juris Doctor
  • 1981
  • St. Lawrence University
  • BA - Bachelor of Arts
  • 1978

Sample of Legal Cases

  • State of Wisconsin vs. Sexual Assault Defendant
  • Not guilty on all counts.
  • State of Wisconsin vs. Sexual Assault Defendant
  • Not guilty on all counts.
  • State of Wisconsin vs. Innocent Young Man
  • Not guilty on all counts.

Associations

  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • 1996 - Present
  • Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
  • 1995 - Present
  • Dane County Bar Association
  • 1995 - Present
  • Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • 1994 - Present
View all associations

Languages Spoken

  • English

Honors and Awards

  • AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review Rated
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • 2016
  • Preeminent 4.5 out of 5.0 Client Rating
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • 2010
  • Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Madison Magazine
  • 2009
  • Wisconsin Best DUI Defense Attorneys
  • OWI-DUI.com
  • 2009
  • Wisconsin Super Lawyer
  • Wisconsin Super Lawyers
  • 2009
  • Wisconsin Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers
  • 2008
  • Wisconsin Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers
  • 2007
  • Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Madison Magazine
  • 2007
  • Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Madison Magazine
  • 2005
  • Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Madison Magazine
  • 2003
  • Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Madison Magazine
  • 2001
View all awards

Attorney endorsements

Received (7)
Given (0)
Endorse Christopher
Criminal defense Attorney | Jan 12
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"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."
Criminal defense Attorney | Dec 29
Relationship: Opposing Counsel on matter
"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."
Criminal defense Attorney | Aug 23
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Chris offered me some good advice about getting started as a new attorney. He is experienced in criminal law and very passionate about ethical representation and thorough preparation. "The will to win is worthless if you do not have the will to prepare.""
Criminal defense Attorney | Jun 02
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse Christopher. He is a highly skilled attorney that is well respected in the legal community."
Criminal defense Attorney | Dec 29
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Highly experienced lawyer."
Criminal defense Attorney | Feb 03
Relationship: Co-worker
"Chris is known as one of Wisconsin's top trial attorneys. I consider myself lucky to have worked with him for the past eight years. If I were ever charged with a criminal defense, I'd call him first."
Criminal defense Attorney | Jan 24
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Chris is a creative and brilliant lawyer who is an example for us all."
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This attorney hasn't created any attorney endorsements recently on Avvo.
Madison Criminal defense Lawyer Christopher Van Wagner
Christopher Van Wagner
Criminal defense Attorney
Madison, WI
Licensed for 35 years
Free Consultation