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Derek Michael Smith

Criminal defense Attorney at Tacoma, WA

5.0   15 reviews

Licensed for 26 years

Free consultation

About Derek

Learn Derek’s areas of practice.

5
Practice areas

Derek brings more than 20 years of criminal law experience to the Tacoma attorney team of Smith and White. His work as a prosecutor, judge, and defense attorney provide him valuable insight into Washington criminal defense law.

Derek tried hundreds of criminal defense cases, including in the state Court of Appeals and Washington State Supreme Court, as a prosecutor with the cities of Seattle and Kent. He’s worked on or negotiated more than 15,000 criminal defense cases ranging from DUI to felony crimes.

Derek served as a vice and narcotics liaison for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office and received the Seattle Police Department Chief’s Award for his handling of dozens of civil asset forfeitures. He has also presided over thousands of cases as a judge pro tem in Federal Way, Pacific and Des Moines.

He graduated with honors from Seattle University School of Law in 1996.

Derek volunteers his time to local nonprofits including serving as president of the Tacoma Art Museum Activities Council in 2010 for the museum’s 75th Anniversary Gala. He served as vice president then president of St. Mark’s Lutheran by the Narrows church council.  He currently serves on the Stewardship Council for St. Marks and assist his wife, the director of Sunday School for St. Marks.  He is a member of his sons' school PTA and is active in other local charities.

He lives in Tacoma with his family.

 

Photos and videos

Licensed for 26 years
State WA
Status Active
Acquired 1996
Updated 11/25/2022
State ND
Status License Expired
Acquired 2012
Updated 11/22/2022

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

Contact Derek

Derek Smith
717 Tacoma Ave. S, Suite C
Suite C
Tacoma, WA, 98402

Reviews

5.0 / 5.0
  15 customer reviews
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Posted by Greg | September 8, 2011
The best attorney I have ever worked with!
I have worked with Derek on several cases over the years and completely trust his counsel, wisdom, guidance, and knowledge of the law. Specifically, on the personal side, Derek helped my family navigate through some very troubling times when my son unfortunately found himself on the wrong side of the law. What I appreciated the most through that ordeal is how Derek dealt strictly in facts and not emotions. He made us face the harsh reality of the real world and didn't candy coat the path that was ahead of us. Because of his expertise, and specifically because of his prior background and experience as a Prosecutor, we were able to successfully negotiate an acceptable settlement. Derek saved my family untold thousands of dollars, and more importantly, spared my son from facing a long and drawn out trial. On the business side, Derek has served as my attorney on various fronts. I had worked with many other attorneys over the years, but none of them delivered the same level of service as does Derek. He is prompt, fair, and has a knack for being one step ahead of the other side. I view Derek as a critical part of my business team and would not venture too far out without first seeking his counsel. I wholeheartedly recommend Derek for any matter relating to the law.
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Posted by Angela | December 26, 2011
Knowledgeable Legal Advice
Mr. Smith responded to my e mail in a timely manner. I might have been charged with a serious crime and needed some advice in a calm manner since I had never been in trouble with the law and was freaking out. He kept me calm with his legal expertise and put it in a way that I could understand. He gave me the worse case and the best case and didn't sugar coat it. In the end no charges have been filed and I never had to meet with Mr. Smith, but if the need arises and I ever need a REALLY good lawyer, I know who to call.
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Posted by anonymous | April 27, 2021
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Look no further.. you’ll be in great hands.
Derek has defended me in 2 separate cases. A 4th degree assault DV with far reaching implications for my future. We decided to take it to trial and through some back and fourth between alleged victim and prosecutors it was dismissed. The second case was a hit and run with alleged injury. Was also dismissed. Derek is the man. His stature , the way he holds himself how he articulates things just commands attention and respect. The judges like him , he seems to get along with the prosecutors as well. If your looking for an attorney to blow smoke and only tell you things you want to hear than he isn’t your attorney. He is not a sugar coater, can be blunt and to the point may not be your buddy buddy but he gets paid to kick as$ and keep you out of jail not be your friend. Derek is on speed dial and will always be my attorney as long as I am in the Tacoma, Puyallup area.
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Posted by Chris | January 22, 2018
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Very helpful and direct. Apreciatted.
Even though my case was dismissed very early on I will respect and appreciate ho direct and helpful Derek was. He helped me in understanding what was important at the moment and what would be important later. He was totally upfront with a with what might happen, could happen and what the best case scenario would be. I very much appreciate his fine work even if it was just to soothe and calm me and my wife
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Posted by Michelle | August 14, 2014
my DUI experience, and retaining counsel.
Mr. Derek Smith handled my case with the utmost professionalism, intelligence, wisdom and knowledge. Mr. Smith, & his Law Partner, James White, both worked on my case, and they both uncovered multiple discrepancies on the opposing side. Derek Smith & James White always kept my mind at rest, and w mercy and suave grace throughout my entire court experience/dilemma. In the the eyes of the law, I had made a bad choice and decision, and sometimes I'm anxious- especially when life gets really real. This team of lawyers, Smith & White; Derek Smith & James White fought the battle for me, and we won. I'm so grateful to them both. I'd give them three thumbs up if I had another thumb. Michelle--thanks for the opportunity to provide feedback.
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Posted by butterflykissesx6 | December 30, 2013
Best in the business by far!!!!
Mr. Derek Smith is a no nonsense lawyer. He is personable an obviously well regarded in the lawyer field. We interviewed several lawyers and even hired another lawyer before finding Derek. Our previous lawyer said there was "nothing more he could do" and it was either trial or face jail time. He was fired and we found Derek. Derek was immediately forthright with the possible outcomes and he was honest, didn't sugar coat anything. It just felt right to hire him, there was no doubt that he would do a better job that our previous lawyer. Derek immediately got to work on the case. He interviewed all parties and presented the scenario to the prosecutor. After some negotiations, he was able to negotiate no jail time, only community service and a very small fine. Everyone else told us it would be for sure jail time. I would not hesitate a second to recommend Derek to anyone needing a criminal lawyer.
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Posted by Karl | October 2, 2013
A lawyer you can trust!!
I was face with a situation that could had a huge impact on my personal life and career life, But Mr. Smith was very understanding, attentive and determined to assist and resolve my situation. From the first meeting to the over and over continuance this attorney was honest and to the point without ever losing focus. Mr. Smith is extremely confident in the court room back by superb knowledge and understanding of Court rules and Common Laws. Thanks Derek!
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Posted by Chris | September 5, 2013
Best attorney ever
Last year, I was charged with a shocking assault felony that threatened my entire future. It was a self-defense case, but the alleged victim twisted the story to make me seem horrible. I felt hopeless and crushed with nowhere to turn. Before Derek, I had two other lawyers. They were unresponsive, pessimistic about my case, and didn't do much research, even though I knew I was innocent. 8 months into the case, and just two weeks before trial, I met Derek. I had scheduled meetings with several other attorneys, but I decided to sign Derek immediately. It was more than just the fact that he was intelligent. He also cared a lot. With only two weeks to prepare, he worked tirelessly to do research into the case. (Research that my previous attorneys had not done.) I have very high standards for attorneys, yet I trusted Derek. He didn't pressure me to make decisions (or take plea bargains), but he carefully explained the pros and cons of each choice. When I decided I wanted to go to trial, he didn't flinch. He went to trial and performed with astute intelligence and eloquence in the courtroom. He advocated for my rights and the truth, and I was fully acquitted of the charges. Keep in mind that many people thought this case was impossible to win. But Derek won it. If you find yourself in a complicated situation with the law, I highly recommend Derek. My life and future are exponentially better today because I hired him.
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Posted by anonymous | September 4, 2013
Excellent Representation and Results
I am extremely happy with the service that I was provided by Derek Smith. He kept me informed and got me the best results he could!
Posted by Paul H | March 6, 2013
A force to be reckoned with!
I would recommend Derek to anyone! Derek helped me with 2 cases I had brought against me by Kitsap County a year after the fact when they happened. I am a college student that relies on financial aid for my education and both these cases were putting my funding at risk. When I went to my arraignment before hiring Derek the prosecutor was a complete B word. She wouldn't work with me and was definitely trying to throw me under the bus as I did not have representation and was looking at applying for a public defender. Luckily I located Derek Smith on this website and he was more than willing to work with me on payments which made it possible to hire a REAL lawyer. From the time Derek stepped into the court room he commanded attention. Both times we appeared in court Derek was knowledgeable about what was going on and literally got me in and out. The prosecutor seemed to be much much nicer now that I had Derek on my side and was more willing to see reason . In closing I would like to say I was no angel growing up and have had many run ins with the law in Kitsap County and have never, I mean never before had a lawyer that was able to get Kidnap County off my back the way Derek did. He always answered my emails and phone calls, even outside of his office hours. If you want a lawyer that is straight up with you, will keep you posted on whats going on and definitely do everything he can to help you, Derek Smith is your man!!
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Posted by anid | March 2, 2012
Best defense lawyers out there! Derek M. Smith and James L. White
Derek M. Smith and James L. White are professional lawyers and I highly recommend them because they proved me that they can do the best by working on my criminal case. I was in a bad situation , stressed and didn't know what to do after my incident, but Derek Smith helped me to stay calm and answered all of my questions right at that moment i needed help where to start and how to act. I trusted them my criminal case and I can be proud of how professional and fast it was done. I am very glad that online provided me the best Lawyers out all and would never search for anyone else because Derek M. Smith and James L. White really made me feel like my case was important and not just some extra work. I am very pleased and was treated with respect in any situation during my case. I promise you guys will not regret for hiring them to work on your case. I would like to Thank You Derek M. Smith And James L. White for your time , hard work , excellent job and patience. God Bless You and everything you do :-)
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Posted by Melika | February 10, 2012
Traffic Infraction
Mr. Smith was wonderful to work with. He was professional, knowledgeable and effective!! He takes the time to listen, which is amazing and can be a hard quality to find! He is informative and straight forward, which I truly appreciate! He was quite helpful on another matter that I asked his advise on. Thank you!!!
Posted by Denise | December 31, 2011
A great attorney!
Derek did a great job advising me about my son's case. He was always there and talked us through this tough time in our lives. I don't know what I would have done without him!
Posted by anonymous | August 26, 2011
Specific Legal Counsel
Derek has assisted our family with legal advise and assistance from rental evictions, family law with custody matters and estate disputes. Derek also helped our son when he was faced with trouble in juvenile court. He always is specific with his counsel giving no false expectations and delivering the facts and help needed to solve the case at hand. Derek shows positive character and integrity in all instances; we appreciate that he attacks issues head on without delay and follows up throughout the process.
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Posted by James | August 2, 2011
Save me from going to jail/no charges filed
I called Mr. Smith as my wife was calling 911 and fabricating a DV allegation. Mr. Smith took my call and gave me immediate advice that saved me going to jail. The end result of his help was that no charges were even filed. The best lawyer beats your case before you have one! Thank you Mr. Smith.
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Cost

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

Resume

AVVO RATING 10.0 (Superb)

Work Experience

  • Partner
  • Law Office of Smith and White, PLLC
  • 2011 - Present
  • Judge Pro Tem
  • Des Moines Municipal Court
  • 2010 - Present
  • Judge Pro Tem
  • Pacific Municipal Court
  • 2010 - Present
  • Judge Pro Tem
  • Federal Way Municipal Court
  • 2010 - Present
  • Assistant City Attorney
  • Seattle City Attorney’s Office
  • 2002 - 2010
  • Senior Prosecutor
  • City Of Kent Prosecutor's Office
  • 2000 - 2002
  • Domestic Violence Prosecutor
  • City Of Kent Attorney's Office
  • 2000 - 2000
  • Prosecutor
  • City Of Kent Attorney's Office
  • 1996 - 2000
  • Rule 9 Legal Intern
  • City Of Kent Attorney's Office
  • 1995 - 1996
  • Legal Intern-Institutions Project
  • Puget Sound Legal Assistance Fdn
  • 1994 - 1995
View all work experience

Education

  • Seattle University School of Law
  • JD - Juris Doctor
  • 1996
  • University of California - Davis
  • BA - Bachelor of Arts
  • 1991

Legal Cases

  • State v. J. Doe
  • Reckless Driving Deferred Sentence
  • State v. J. Doe
  • Case dismissed
  • Tacoma v. J. Doe
  • Dismissed
View all legal cases

Associations

  • Salvation Army
  • Advisory Board
  • 2018 - Present
  • Hon. Robert J. Bryan American Inn of Court
  • Associate Member
  • 2013 - Present
  • Washington Defender Association
  • Member
  • 2012 - Present
  • Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association
  • Member
  • 2011 - Present
  • Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association, CLE Committee
  • Member
  • 2012 - 2013
  • Washington State Bar Association, Character and Fitness Board
  • Member
  • 2012 - 2015
  • St. Marks Lutheran by the Narrows Executive Council
  • President
  • 2011 - 2013
  • Washington State Bar Association, Criminal Law Section
  • Member
  • 2010 - 2015
  • Washington State Bar Association, Court Rules and Procedures Committee
  • Member
  • 2010 - 2012
  • Tacoma Art Museum Activites Council
  • President
  • 2009 - 2010
  • Tacoma Art Museum
  • Vice President
  • 2008 - 2009
  • Tacoma Art Museum Activites Council
  • Chair-Procurement Committee
  • 2007 - 2008
View all associations

Languages Spoken

  • English

Awards

  • Chief of Police Award
  • Seattle Police Department
  • 2008
  • Merit Award
  • Seattle City Attorney's Office
  • 2008
  • Graduated Cum Laude
  • Seattle University School of Law
  • 1996
  • Licensed to Practice
  • US Federal Court Western District of Washington
  • 1996
View all awards

Speaking Engagements

  • Gun Law in Washington
  • Firearms Law
  • 2018
  • Criminal Law CLE Topics
  • Firearms Law
  • 2018
  • Gun Law in Washington
  • Firearms Law
  • 2017
  • Marijuana Law in Washington
  • Ethics of Marijuana
  • 2016
  • Gun Law in Washington
  • Firearms Law
  • 2016
  • Internal CLE
  • Firearms Law
  • 2009
  • West Precinct Advisory Counsel
  • Vice and Narcotics Effects on the Community
  • 2008
  • South Precinct Advisory Committee
  • Vice and Drug Effects on Motels
  • 2008
  • East Precinct Advisory Counsel
  • Drug Law Offenses and Neighborhood Effects
  • 2008
  • Seattle University School of Law Extern Program
  • Real World Criminal Law
  • 2007
  • Seattle University Externship Program
  • Real World Criminal Law
  • 2006
  • Seattle University School of Law Externship Program
  • Real World Criminal Law
  • 2005
  • Washington State Criminal Justice Institute Officer Training
  • Report Writing for Officers
  • 2002
  • Field Sobriety Test Training Program
  • Report Writing
  • 2001
  • Spring Conference 2000
  • Ethics in Prosecution
  • 2000
  • Winter Conference 1998
  • Evidnence in Domestic Violence Cases
  • 1998
View all speaking engagements

Attorney endorsements

Received (28)
Given (24)
Criminal defense Attorney | Aug 29
Relationship: Opposing Counsel on matter
"All the attributes that made Derek a strong and effective prosecutor make him a tremendous defense attorney. His experience on both sides gives him a unique perspective that will be a huge advantage to his clients. Derek is a smart, thorough and prepared attorney who is also compassionate advocate for his clients."
Criminal defense Attorney | Aug 04
Relationship: Opposing Counsel on matter
"Derek Smith is a highly skilled attorney with remarkable expertise in criminal law and DUI cases. I am constantly impressed with his passionate representation and his strong commitment to justice and integrity. I strongly endorse this lawyer."
Criminal defense Attorney | Aug 01
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"As a former prosecutor and judge his experience will vastly improve his clients chances of winning. DA's know that he knows what they know. Experience counts! Read his reviews and endorsements and than hire him. KUDOS"
DUI and DWI Attorney | Jul 30
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer."
Criminal defense Attorney | May 26
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse Derek. He is a highly skilled attorney that is well respected in the legal community."
Criminal defense Attorney | Aug 11
Relationship: Worked together on matter
"Derek is a great attorney and a great person. I first met him while I was in law school and he was always willing to spend time to share his knowledge. In my years of practice since, this has not changed. I don't generally practice criminal law and when I have a question related to criminal defense, Derek is the first one I turn to. His responses are quick, accurate, well-reasoned and most importantly well-explained. His vast experience in both criminal prosecution and defense make him a great resource. I don't hesitate to recommend him to my friends and clients and I'm proud to publicly endorse him as well."
Criminal defense Attorney | Mar 10
Relationship: Worked together on matter
"I endorse this lawyer. I had the pleasure of working alongside Mr. Smith during a hard fought trial in Seattle Municipal Court with multiple co-defendants. He is a very knowledgable, skilled trial attorney who fights hard for his clients."
Criminal defense Attorney | Feb 20
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer."
Criminal defense Attorney | Nov 14
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Mr. Smith is a considerate and passionate member of the legal community. I fully endorse this lawyer."
Criminal defense Attorney | Nov 14
Relationship: Worked together on matter
"I endorse this lawyer. I have worked with Derek when he was both a prosecutor at the Seattle City Attorney's Office and as a criminal defense attorney. He is an encyclopedia of knowledge as far as legal issues, works his cases incredibly hard, and is passionate and understanding. He is a mentor to many young lawyers and any client would be very lucky to work with him."
Criminal defense Attorney | Jul 28
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer."
Criminal defense Attorney | Mar 28
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer. I worked with Derek Smith at the City Attorney's office in Seattle when we were both prosecutors. He was one of our senior top trial attorneys in the office and for good reason; his trial skills are excellent and he has a strong command of the law, case law and procedural rules. He was an amazing mentor to me and other young attorneys coming up the ranks. He is very personable and articulate and his talent is really evident in the courtroom as he is able to work the room and be very persuasive with judges and jurors. As a defense attorney, Derek now has knowledge of how the other side works and he is a force to be reckon with, prosecutors will have a hard time with him as he is a fierce advocate and fighter for his clients. I highly recommend my colleague. He is one of our region's best attorneys."
Unknown Attorney | Mar 09
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer. He provides detailed and insightful analysis to questions posed by AVVO subscribers. The detailed responses and thorough explanations provided here display a vast knowledge of the law. He is an asset to the legal community."
Criminal defense Attorney | Feb 22
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer. Derek Smith is a very knowledgeable and experienced attorney."
Domestic violence Attorney | Jan 17
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer. Attorney Smith provides detailed and honest postings on AVVO assisting those with various areas of criminal and civil litigation questions. Also, his comments show his genuine compassion for his clients. Attorney Smith has a proved track record proving zealous representation for his clients and advocating for justice. A true professional"
Divorce and separation Attorney | Jan 16
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Attorney Smith exemplifies the very best attributes of an active attorney and a level of professionalism we should all aspire to. Honesty, dedication and a love of the law which means. giving back to others who lack our understanding of the law. The thousands years of combined legal experience of professionals activity participating in forum represent some of the very best of our profession, which is after all, at its base is desire to those in need. This Attorney’s experience allows to obtain excellent results for his clients. Most importantly, this Attorney is willing to help complete strangers (as is the case in this forum) with legal problem for which we may have some helpful information and thereby demystify the legal process as much as possible. I would recommend this Attorney without any hesitation for all practice areas listed."
Unknown Attorney | Jan 10
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer."
Criminal defense Attorney | Jan 02
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer."
Unknown Attorney | Dec 27
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer."
Criminal defense Attorney | Dec 22
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Derek is an experienced lawyer who has an excellent understanding of the law and fights for his clients"
View more endorsements
Criminal defense
Constitutional
Criminal defense
Criminal defense
Criminal defense
Immigration
Criminal defense
Criminal defense
Criminal defense
Criminal defense
Criminal defense
Bankruptcy and debt
Criminal defense
Divorce and separation
Criminal defense
Domestic violence