I'm not licensed in CA, so I obviously can't help with your stated objective. Instead I write in response to some of the terminology utilized in your question. In particular I'm struck by your repeated use of the descriptive phrase, "high profile". What your "close acquaintance" needs is a qualified criminal defense attorney with experience in this particular area. High profile suggests to me something that does not necessarily benefit the client. Skill and experience are the things that enable lawyers to help their clients. Finding such an attorney can involve a fair amount of time and effort and ultimately turns on whether a particular candidate creates confidence in the accused.
I am not sure of definition of "high profile". I am familiar with lawyers such as Tom Mesereau, Mark Geragos and the like. They have represented high profile clients but are around Los Angeles area but have handled cases all over.
I can also assure you that there are really great caliber aggressive attorneys in this forum you can select. It depends on the objective and your own set criteria in hiring the lawyer that fits your needs. You can also contact San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa County Bar Association and see if they can match your criteria.
Mr. Jones is on target when he suggests that "high profile" is not necessarily a positive thing in the circumstances you describe.
May I politely suggest that you will likely not have explored all the good possible attorneys in the Bay Area if you continue to look only for the right "guy."
Forget high-profile (which are all too often the result of press releases, public relations contracts, and paid-for accolades and testimonials) and choose competence: knowledge, skill, judgment, experience, clarity of communication skills, persuasive, respected. I am a former prosecutor, and I know that these are the qualities that matter when the defendant has a real fight ahead.
There are a number of highly skilled and effective defense attorneys in the Bay area. I would put Ms. Gutekunst (who responded here to you) very high on that list of outstanding legal counsel.
My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.
I agree with the other posters. "High profile" doesn't necessarily mean good. There are many excellent attorneys who don't feel the need to get on TV every chance they get, and there are lots of excellent attorneys here on AVVO. Contact a number of them and go with whomever you like best, regardless of "profile."
Mr. Feasel is a former prosecutor in San Mateo County (CA) with over 10 years of criminal law experience. Nothing stated on this site shall in anyway be construed as legal advice, or as creating any attorney/client relationship. If you would like to hire Mr. Feasel to further investigate your situation, feel free to contact him thru this site.