Badge 1
Badge 2
Badge 3

About Our Criminal Defense Law Firm

Defense legends Daniel Smith and Jon Pettis have achieved a remarkable number of court wins over their 50 years in federal and state criminal defense, establishing themselves as the most successful criminal defense team in San Diego.


The key to our success is teamwork. We use the round table method to work together to find the best strategy, often splitting up duties at trial.


After 50 years of case experience in San Diego, we’ve come to know the individual prosecutors and judges in this county and can strategize accordingly.

Affordable Payment Plan

We provide a complete defense for a flat fee and offer affordable payment plans.

Our Legacy

A reputation built over several generations, San Diego Defenders can trace it’s humble beginnings to Daniel Smith’s grandfather R.G. Smith, who gained a reputation as a legendary defense lawyer during the 1920’s Prohibition Era and into the Great Depression. The legacy continued with Daniel’s father Ralph G. Smith Jr., a former prosecutor for the United States Attorney. He often told Daniel that a winning reputation will have prosecutors agreeing to your terms rather than dealing with you in court. “When you have enough passion to win, clients and prosecutors know it.”

BBB Acredited Business
Hispanic Lawyers member

SanDiego Lawyers

Practice Areas

Our clients depend on us for a result that gets their life back to normal as soon as possible and because of that, we have always been committed to providing our clients with a complete defense to the finish.

Hit and Run

A DUI hit and run accident that involves drunken driving generally involves multiple offense. When alcohol is not involved, the police officer will attempt to contact the driver after the hit and run. Politely decline to answer the officer's questions, although this is sometimes easier said than done.

Federal DUI

If you are charged with a DUI on Federal land, such as a military base or national park, then it will be classified as a Federal DUI. A conviction can have long-lasting consequences and can include fines, license suspension, and possibly jail time.

Asset Seizure and Forfeiture

San Diego Defenders has achieved great success helping Innocent Owners get their property returned from the government. Learn how we can help you.


Driving under the influence is a specialized and highly technical area of the law. What used to be considered a glorified speeding ticket, now is one of the most severely punished misdemeanors on the books. A person convicted of a DUI is facing jail, fines, alcohol classes, driver's license suspensions, points on the driver's license and higher insurance costs.

Drug Defense

Drug charges are almost always a result of financial need or in support of personal use. In the case of the former, the client that is charged with a federal drug offense is generally a courier that feels forced to cross drugs across the United States border POE (ports of entry) at San Ysidro, Otay Mesa and Calexico to earn a relatively meager amount of money.

White Collar

Historically, white collar criminals engage in financial deception such as tax evasion, tax fraud, bribery, forgery, Ponzi schemes, embezzlement, insider trading and other crimes that utilize government resources for personal gain. They are usually tried in federal court because they are considered federal crimes.

Domestic Violence

The legal process behind dealing with a domestic violence case can be emotional and challenging. Though SDD’s founder, Daniel Smith says,” if there is one thing that my father, a judge for 20 years, taught me about DV cases, it is that an arrest is not an automatic indication of guilt.


In California, most convictions can be expunged from your record. An expungement is technically your plea of guilty being withdrawn and the case being dismissed. It is a legal fiction that it never happened.

Federal Crimes

Federal criminal defense is entirely different than state crimes and it is important to hire an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer if you are charged with any federal crime.

What others are saying

Connect with Us

Please follow us on the social media community of your choice.