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Ryan James Couzens

Criminal defense Attorney at Auburn, CA

5.0   12 reviews
  • Licensed for 22 years
    State CA
    Acquired 2001
    Active No misconduct found

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

About Ryan

Learn Ryan’s areas of practice.

Practice areas
  1. Criminal defense
    As a prosecutor (16 years), handled over 500 cases and did over 45 jury trials for everything from Gang Crimes and Robberies to Domestic Violence, to Homicides. Now uses experience as a DA to advantage my clients as a criminal defense attorney.

  2. DUI and DWI
    Conducted over ten (10) jury trials on DUI as a prosecutor; efforts earned office a MADD award.

  3. Domestic violence
    Conducted several domestic violence jury trials, including multiple cases with life exposure; worked the Domestic Violence Grant position.

  4. Drug Crime
    Worked a Drug Grant assignment with multiple jury trials; created office "Harm Reduction" policy to divert people charged with drug crimes into treatment instead of prosecution.

  5. Violent crime
    As a prosecutor, most of the cases handled were violent crime cases; was voted Attorney of the Year in 2011 and 2016.

  6. Sex crime
    Supervised the Major Crimes Division at Yolo District Attorney.

  7. White collar crime
    Worked dozens of cases involving identity theft throughout career but also worked the Elder Abuse Grant assignment with the District Attorney, which involved fraud.

There is enormous value in understanding your opponent in any negotiation, and Ryan Couzens knows this only too well. He spent sixteen years on the other side of the courtroom, prosecuting cases for the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office. As an Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney, Ryan supervised Yolo’s felony trial teams, Case Charging Unit, and Major Crimes Unit before deciding to move into criminal defense. His insight into prosecution strategies is invaluable to his clients, but even more important is Ryan’s motivation for changing sides.

Ryan came to the Cohen Defense Group because he wants to help people, individual people, facing real, specific obstacles in their lives. As Ryan says, “When you’re a prosecutor, you’re representing the interests of the community at large – the People of the State of California. When you’re defending, you’re representing that person sitting right next to you in court, and only that person. I want to advocate for that person who is in trouble and help them move past it.” According to founding partner, David Cohen, “Ryan had a reputation in Yolo as a compassionate but tough-as-nails DA who gave his all to every case, working hard, using bold tactics, and checking every detail. He was a fierce and respected prosecutor. Yet his transformation to criminal defense has been rapid and seamless. I knew he would be great with legal analysis, courtroom presence, and trial and negotiation tactics. What I couldn’t see coming was his remarkable ability to work with his clients. Ryan is patient, makes himself available, listens to his clients, explains things clearly, and truly cares about their fate. He has been a tremendous addition to the Cohen Defense Group.”

Ryan has the law in his veins. He is a third-generation attorney whose father, J. Richard Couzens, served on the Placer County bench for years. Ryan was raised understanding the gravity of the law and the impact that it has on people’s lives. He sees law as a profession of service to the community and acts to better the justice system wherever he can. For instance, Ryan cares deeply about mental health issues, which stems in part from raising two severely disabled children, for whom he is a constant advocate. This led to him contributing to the definitive guide for the State’s new Mental Health Diversion program (Penal Code ). As a prosecutor, Ryan created a “Harm Reduction” policy diverting those caught with drugs into treatment instead of prosecution. In an effort to make the criminal justice system more transparent and unbiased, Ryan authored Penal Code section 13370, the Justice Data Accountability and Transparency Act (JDATA), and Penal Code Section 741, requiring prosecuting agencies to implement race-blind charging in criminal cases. The adoption of Ryan’s proposed legislation into law is a testament to both his legal expertise and his concern for the welfare of the individual.

One of Ryan’s greatest strengths as a defense attorney is the experience he gained from his years in the DA’s office, where he did 46 jury trials, including multiple homicides, drug conspiracies, domestic violence, DUIs, robberies and other crimes. “I was a prosecutor for 16 years, so I have perspective on what motivates DA’s, what drives their decisions. I know what it takes for them to prove a case.” That means Ryan also sees the shortcomings in the DA’s case and that’s where his passion for the law comes in. Ryan sees litigation as a battle and puts in the work to prepare accordingly. He spends hours researching case law, writing briefs, and preparing arguments. Ryan’s experience coupled with his enthusiasm for the work make him a powerful advocate and an exceptional defense attorney.

Ryan attended McGeorge School of Law where he was at the top of his class in Criminal Law and received the American Jurisprudence Award. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the prestigious Boalt Hall at U.C. Berkeley, where he extern-clerked for the California Supreme Court and went on to a federal clerkship in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. Before he found his calling in criminal law, Ryan practiced civil litigation for four years, including for the prestigious global law firm of Latham & Watkins LLP, where he worked on cases for clients such as the City of San Diego, Chevron and the National Football League.

Ryan served in the United States Navy for five years where, in his free time, he did civic activities such as “Project White Hat,” helping terminally ill children and their families in Chicago, Illinois. When he isn’t working, Ryan spends time with his family and engages in activities that support his children, including participation in special needs sports.

Born and raised in Placer County, Ryan was admitted to the California Bar in 2001. Education: University of Maryland, Asian Division; (B.S., Information Systems Management, 1996); McGeorge School of Law (First Year of Study, 1998); Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley (J.D., 2001). Member: Placer County Bar Association.

Photos and videos


Cohen Defense Group
1515 Lincoln Way
Auburn, CA, 95603-5009
Cohen Defense Group
919 Reserve Drive
Roseville, CA, 95678
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5.0 / 5.0
  12 customer reviews
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1 Star
Posted by Mitch | April 12, 2024
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Amazing attorney
I was extremely fortunate to have Ryan couzins defend my case he worked diligently and fought to get me the best outcome possible which he achieved 100%
Posted by Rosie | April 11, 2024
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Great lawer
I really appreciate all your work fighting for my husband sentence but the most on the immigration with no derport him thank you ur great attorney
Posted by C.J Holland | April 5, 2024
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Thank you Ryan
I hire Ryan for a Felony evading and reckless endangerment case. Looking at minimum 2 years in prison and not being able to drive. Ryan got my felons dropped to misdemeanor, and eventually diversion. So he got my driving privileges back and no time in custody. If your looking for the best attorney he's your guy. Thank you Ryan.
Posted by Ashley | March 15, 2024
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
The Absolute Best Attorney
Attorney Ryan Couzens helped prevent a major crisis not only for my family member that he was representing but for our entire family. My family member had just recently relapsed due to his medications being switched by his doctors. He was then jailed and was accused of trafficking when that was not the case. Attorney Couzens used his expertise and skills to be able to advocate for my family member to access supportive services such as rehab, which the court was originally against. He was successful in doing this and my family member entered rehab. My family member truly needed rehab rather than being jailed and creating more trauma, which would result in worsening his substance use issues rather than finding a solution to them. In less than a year, my family member successfully completed the rehab program and has been clean since. This would not have been the outcome if Attorney Couzens had not represented my family member. He was looking at 6 years in jail. Additionally, Attorney Couzens made himself available and effectively communicated with my family member and the entire family. He kept us informed throughout the entire process and quickly responded to any questions that myself and my family had. In addition to this, Attorney Couzens also provided emotional support for our entire family during a challenging time. His empathy, understanding, and ability to navigate sensitive family matters took his support to a whole another level. Through Attorney Couzens' professionalism, dedication, and attention to detail, he was able to prevent a situation that would have destroyed our entire family. Instead of my family member serving 6 years in jail and only furthering his addiction issues, Attorney Couzens was able to have a successful resolution of the case and we were able to have our family member back and sober. My family and I are extremely grateful for Attorney Couzens' hard work, dedication, and positive outcome. I would 100% recommend Attorney Couzens to anyone who requires an attorney and our entire family would use him again if ever needed. He is beyond phenomenal!
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Posted by Anita | February 17, 2024
This review is from a potential client who consulted with this attorney.
| Consulted Attorney
A True Advocate
Ryan represented our son in Placer County and was a strong advocate for him. He kept us informed and worked for his best interests. He was knowledgeable with system/ process. Would want his representation in the future.
Posted by Diane | January 2, 2024
This review is from a potential client who consulted with this attorney.
| Consulted Attorney
Legal Warrior
Ryan has acted as a mentor attorney to me over the last 13 years. He has an excellent grasp on the laws and fights for his clients, whether they are the People of the State of California, or now as a Criminal Defense attorney, the accused. Ryan is constantly sharpening his tools so that he is ready to fight in the courtroom and his passion for the law is evident in his legal arguments and the enthusiasm in which he fights for his clients. He has a brilliant legal mind and his very well-respected in the legal community.
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Posted by Robert | December 11, 2023
This review is from a potential client who consulted with this attorney.
| Consulted Attorney
Total package
Ryan and I were colleagued at the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office for several years and I have seen his work firsthand. I still consult with him for legal issues on a regular basis. I can honestly say I don’t know a single attorney with a better work ethic, legal acumen, sense of fairness, and devotion to his craft.
Posted by Kierren | December 3, 2023
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Life saver
I can’t express enough what Ryan done for me and my family. His professionalism attention to details and he cares tremendously about his clients. It was a privilege being his client
Posted by anonymous | November 17, 2023
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Mr. Couzens is an excellent lawyer
Mr. Couzens represented my son and was very professional throughout the process. He was always available to answer our questions and provided clear explanations of the legal issues involved. His knowledge of the law is extremely thorough, and he is also a very honest and trustworthy individual. I have nothing but good things to say about him.
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Posted by Allen | November 13, 2023
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Experienced Attorney
I was very grateful to have Ryan Couzens as my attorney. He was always available for phone calls and would answer all of my questions. Should I ever need an attorney again, he's the one I would call.
Posted by E.M.T | November 13, 2023
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Ryan is the BEST!
I initially contacted the COHEN DEFENSE GROUP and was referred to Mr. Ryan Couzens. He displayed the utmost professionalism. Ryan returned my calls and emails, and always made himself available to address any concerns or questions I had. He showed a high level of expertise and knowledge in his field, which gave me confidence in his ability to handle my unique situation. Ryan knew all necessary documentation and evidence to build a strong case. His attention to detail and dedication to me were truly impressive. His staff provided timely and transparent communication. I always felt like a priority, and that my case was receiving the attention it deserved. In the end, Ryan achieved a favorable outcome for me. Mr. Couzens is understanding and a genuine person. I am grateful for his expertise and going above and beyond to ensure my needs were always met. I was impressed when I read more on Ryan and his outstanding accomplishments (ATTORNEY section on the COHEN DEFENSE GROUP site). If you are seeking legal services, I recommend the COHEN DEFENSE GROUP! Thank you again Ryan! - EMT
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Posted by Joslynn | November 13, 2023
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Highly Recommend
I recently got a DUI and found myself in need of an attorney. Luckily, I knew of Ryan Couzens and heard that he does amazing work. He aided me through every step of the way, both emotionally and legally. I honestly would have been lost without his help, and know my outcome would not have been as good. I got the absolute minimum sentencing for my case, which I don’t believe would have happened if I didn’t retain him. I heavily recommend Ryan to anyone in need. He is personable, kind, and really goes out of his way for his clients. I would rate him higher than 5 stars if I could.
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  • Free Consultation 45 minutes
Payment methods
Cash, Check, Credit Card


AVVO RATING 8.7 (Excellent)

Work Experience

  • Assistant Chief Deputy
  • Yolo County District Attorney
  • 2007 - 2023
  • Litigation Associate
  • Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP
  • 2006 - 2007
  • Litigation Associate
  • Latham & Watkins, LLP
  • 2002 - 2006
  • Law Clerk
  • U.S. District Court E.D. California
  • 2001 - 2002
  • Judicial Extern Clerk
  • California Supreme Court
  • 2000 - 2001
  • Petty Officer Third Class
  • U.S.Navy
  • 1993 - 1998
View all work experience


  • University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law
  • JD - Juris Doctor
  • 2001
  • University of Maryland, Asian Division
  • BA - Bachelor of Arts
  • 1997


  • Placer County Bar Association
  • Member
  • 2023 - Present

Honors and Awards

  • Attorney of the Year
  • Yolo County District Attorney
  • 2016
  • Attorney of the Year
  • Yolo County District Attorney
  • 2011
  • AmJur Top Class Grade Criminal Law
  • American Jurisprudence
  • 1999
  • AmJur Top Class Grade Contract Law
  • American Jurisprudence
  • 1999
View all awards

Speaking Engagements

Attorney endorsements

Received (2)
Given (1)
Endorse Ryan
Criminal defense Attorney | Dec 07
Relationship: Co-worker
"I worked with Ryan Couzens at the Cohen Defense Group and was amazed by his dedication to defending our clients. Ryan is a former prosecutor, so I was initially apprehensive about his commitment to criminal defense. However, his experience at the District Attorney's Office turned out to be a major asset. Ryan understands how prosecutor's think and knows the strategies that they utilize. This knowledge gives him an edge and helps him obtain the best outcomes for his clients. I would definitely recommend Ryan to anyone charged with a crime in the Sacramento area."
Criminal defense Attorney | Nov 13
Relationship: Worked for lawyer
"Mr. Couzens is one of the few attorneys who practices criminal law who can adeptly do trial or appellate work. He is bright, hard working, always prepared, and one who advocates well in writing or orally in front of a judge or jury. He knows how prosecutors think, having been one for many years. He's tenacious and never gives up. Juries love him and he gets outstanding results. He also cares about people and takes the time to get to know the people involved in his cases. If I had a loved or friend one who needed a criminal defense attorney I'd recommend Mr. Couzens."
Criminal defense

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Auburn Criminal defense Lawyer Ryan James Couzens
Ryan James Couzens
Criminal defense Attorney
Auburn, CA
Licensed for 22 years
Free Consultation