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About me

I am the founder of San Diego Defenders, the preminent private criminal defense law firm in San Diego. We are a team of lawyers. That means that two lawyers are always working on your case. We offer in-house payment plans in a comfortable boutique law firm setting with free parking and state of the art conference room and digital screens for viewing and listening to evidence such as the important video received almost all cases. We work hard to get the best results and our reviews show that to be true!  


I began my law career as a trial lawyer for Federal Defenders of San Diego. I am a 3rd generation lawyer beginning with my grandfather R.G. Smith who began his practice in 1916 during the prohibition era and my father, Raph Smith, and 1950 Northwestern Law graduate and former judge in Phoenix, Arizona. I graduated 1987 Arizona State University with a BS in Economics followed by a law degree 1990 California Western School of Law where I received the American Jurisprudence Award in trial practice. My first job was with former Federal Defenders and later hired as a trial lawyer. My father taught me many trial skills and he actually tried a case with a young Chief Justice William Renquist before he was appointed to the United States Supreme Court.


My goal as a lawyer, first and foremost, is to fight for my clients rights and obtain the best result whether a favorable disposition, a dismissal or an aquittal at trial. I want hel get my client's life back to normal as soon as is possible.


Call San Diego Defenders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (619) 258-8888 to talk to Dan Smith directly!




Languages spoken: Spanish

Photos and videos

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Practice areas


  1. Federal Crime: 35%
  2. Criminal Defense: 35%
  3. DUI & DWI: 25%
  4. White Collar Crime: 5%



Fixed (always), Free consultation (30 minutes)

Payment types:

Cash, Check, Credit card

Attorney endorsements

20 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • 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 and 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 199104/02/2016
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
California DUI Lawyers AssociationMember2011 - Present
DUI Defense Lawyers AssociationMember2011 - Present
California Public Defenders AssociationMember2008 - Present
National Association of Criminal Defense LawyersMember1991 - Present
California Attorneys for Criminal JusticeMember1991 - Present
American Bar Associationmember1991 - Present
State Bar of ArizonaMember1991 - Present
State Bar of CaliforniaMember1990 - Present
San Diego Bar AssociationMember1990 - 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 University Sandra Day O'Connor College of LawEconomicsBS - Bachelor of Science1988
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
Chula Vista City Council DebateChula Vista City Council2014
Chula Vista City Council DebateCandidates Square Off2014
Guest Lecturer - GovernmentCriminal Procedure - Case Study2013
Public Interest Law Foundation ConferenceStarting your Criminal Defense Career as a Federal Public Defender2010
Dateline NBC with Natalie RamirezSchool Bomb Prankster Strikes a Deal2009