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About me

John Runfola is a highly experienced and effective criminal defense attorney. His cases have at times drawn international attention, and he has succeeded in winning favorable results for clients both at trial and through skillful pre-trial work. He is listed in Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers and has earned the highest rating from the national lawyer registry Martindale Hubbell.

Prior to starting his own practice, Mr. Runfola served as a Public Defender in San Francisco, where he gained invaluable courtroom experience. He is a seasoned trial lawyer, yet is equally adept at the behind-the-scenes work that often proves critical to a case: conceiving of strategies to exclude evidence, weaken the government's hand, and provide mitigating information regarding his clients,, so that charges are reduced or dismissed, or a lesser sentence can be achieved. His cases have been the subject of numerous articles in publications such as New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Francisco Examiner, and have been featured on TV news shows including "48 Hours" and "Dateline NBC."

Mr. Runfola has a deep commitment to justice and is keenly aware of the daunting prospect of squaring off against the government, with its tremendous reservoirs of power and resources. He comes from a tradition of the strongest legal advocacy and ethics, having seen his father, Joseph Runfola, work as a criminal defense lawyer and a groundbreaking president of the Erie County Bar Association in New York State. Joseph Runfola, among other accomplishments, created a committee on sex discrimination well ahead of its time, and headed the Bar Association's Aid to Indigent Prisoners Society and its Prisoner Release Program. Like his father, John Runfola truly listens to, and is a tireless advocate for, his clients. His aim is to help people resolve their cases in a way that minimizes the damage to their lives.


John Runfola’s Specialties:

-- Drug Offenses
-- Criminal Trial Practice
-- Federal Offenses
-- Juvenile Offenses
-- Vehicular Crimes and DUI
-- Criminal Appeals
-- White Collar Crimes
-- Violent Crimes
-- Homicide
-- Weapons Charges
-- Domestic Violence
-- Sexual Assault


San Francisco criminal defense lawyer John Runfola represents people charged with federal crimes nationwide, state or federal crimes in California or anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area or the surrounding region, including communities such as Oakland, Modesto, Stockton, Lodi, Vallejo, and Redding, and throughout Sonoma County, Humboldt County, San Joaquin County, Stanislaus County, Mendocino County, Sacramento County, Napa County, Solano County, Marin County, San Mateo County, Santa Cruz County, Santa Clara County, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and Yolo County.


Languages spoken: English, Spanish

Photos and videos

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Contact info

John M. Runfola

Pier 9 Suite 100
San Francisco, CA, 94111

Practice areas


  1. Federal Crime: 25%
    36 years, 500 cases
  2. Criminal Defense: 25%
    36 years, 1 thousand cases
  3. White Collar Crime: 15%
    36 years, 300 cases
  4. Violent Crime: 15%
    36 years, 500 cases
  5. Other: 20%
  6. More 



Free consultation (60 minutes)

Payment types:

Check, Credit card

Attorney endorsements

3 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • Michael S. Waddington

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


    Michael Waddington Military law Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

  • No photo

    John's a lawyer with a heart. He genuinely cares about his clients and works hard to help them. He'll go the extra mile to ensure that his clients are treated fairly. I'd recommend him to anyone considering hiring him.


    David Wilton
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community


We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
AV Rated Preeminent AttorneyMartindale-Hubbell2010
Bar Register of Pre-Eminent LawyersMartindale-Hubbell2009
Bar Register of Pre-Eminent LawyersMartindale-Hubbell2008
Spellbound Free Speech AwardThe Office of the Federal Public Defender2008
Bar Register of Pre-Eminent LawyersMartindale-Hubbell2007
AV Rating - (Highest Level of Legal Ability, Very High Ethics)Martindale-Hubbell2007
AV RatingMartindale-Hubbell2006
Bar Register of Pre-Eminent LawyersMartindale-Hubbell2006
AV RatingMartindale-Hubbell2005
Bar Register of Pre-Eminent LawyersMartindale-Hubbell2005
Bar Register of Pre-Eminent LawyersMartindale-Hubbell2004
AV RatingMartindale-Hubbell2004
Bar Register of Pre-Eminent LawyersMartindale-Hubbell2003
AV RatingMartindale-Hubbell2003
AV RatingMartindale-Hubbell2002
Bar Register of Pre-Eminent LawyersMartindale-Hubbell2002
Bar Register of Pre-Eminent LawyersMartindale-Hubbell2001
AV RatingMartindale-Hubbell2001
AV RatingMartindale-Hubbell2000
Bar Register of Pre-Eminent LawyersMartindale-Hubbell2000
Bar Register of Pre-Eminent LawyersMartindale-Hubbell1999
AV RatingMartindale-Hubbell1999
Bar Register of Pre-Eminent LawyersMartindale-Hubbell1998
AV RatingMartindale-Hubbell1998
Bar Register of Pre-Eminent LawyersMartindale-Hubbell1997
AV RatingMartindale-Hubbell1997
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
AttorneyLaw Offices of John Runfola1984 - Present
Public DefenderSan Francisco Public Defender's Office1981 - 1984
Public DefenderMarin County Public Defender's Office1981 - 1981
Association namePosition nameDuration
Bar Association of San FranciscoConference Attendant2001 - Present
National Association of Criminal Defense LawyersMember1990 - Present
State Bar of CaliforniaMember1980 - Present
California Attorneys for Criminal JusticeMember1980 - Present
Lawyers Club of San FranciscoMember1980 - Present
California Public Defenders AssociationMember1980 - Present
Phi Beta KappaMember1979 - Present
Bar Association of San FranciscoMember1980 - 2000
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
San Francisco State UniversityPolitical ScienceMA - Masters1980
University of San Francisco School of LawLawJD - Juris Doctor1980
State University of New York at BuffaloPolitical ScienceBA - Bachelor of Arts1973
State University of New York at BuffaloSociologyBA - Bachelor of Arts1973