San Diego Defenders

Posted on January 14, 2019
Status Closed nowOpens on Monday at 06:00:AM
San Diego Defenders

San Diego Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Daniel Smith, founder of San Diego Defenders, has been offering affordable payment plans for the best and most complete defense in federal and state criminal cases.  Since 1990, Dan Smith has recognized that hard working people need and deserve the best affordable lawyer to protect their future whether it is in a rare complicated federal drug case or a DUI, the most common misdemeanor in California. Every case – your case – is the most important!

At San Diego Defenders, we understand the traumatic impact a criminal case can have on the accused. You or your loved ones are facing a new and daunting situation. We pride ourselves in seeing our clients as human beings rather than case numbers. Your DUI or other criminal charges are new to you but well known to us. Our practice is devoted exclusively to guiding individuals and families through the challenges of defending criminal prosecution.

Not all lawyers are the same. We appreciate the thanks our clients express, not only for the outcomes we have achieved, but also for the compassion and understanding they received during the process.


Legal Team

Daniel Smith,
Attorney At Law

Attorney Daniel Smith has been making defending clients affordable with payment plans whether they are charged in San Diego Central, Chula Vista, El Cajon or federal cases in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California.  Smith is a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer that handles everything from complex federal drug conspiracies to DUI’s, many of which stem from incidents at the border crossing of Tijuana and San Ysidro.

Multi-defendant methamphetamine conspiracies with wire taps on telephones are as typical as DUIs in this busy court system. “Many people ask me how I do it and the answer is, how can I not defend my client’s constitutional rights in the United States of America. That is what makes our country great and the system simply would not work without defense attorneys. Whether the case is a bank robbery or transportation and distribution of tons of controlled substances, we would be living in a third world country without our system.” Mr. Smith says he gained valuable training and experience while with the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. ” I cannot understand why anyone would want to hire a former prosecutor that presumed everyone guilty as charged. It does not give you an edge and we certainly don’t presume that our courts would favor prosecutors as if we lived in a corrupt country…. God Bless America.”

Mr. Smith is a third generation lawyer following in the footsteps of his father, the Hon. Ralph G. Smith, Jr. a retired judge in Arizona, and his grandfather, Ralph Smith, Sr. who defended boot-leggers during prohibition. Mr. Smith obtained his Bachelors degree in Economics from Arizona State University and then off to California Western School of Law on a scholarship where he received the American Jurisprudence Award in Trial Practice. Mr. Smith is licensed to practice law with both the California State Bar and the Arizona State Bar. Mr. Smith is also admitted in several U.S. District Courts in Arizona and California, and the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals.

Mr. Smith’s reputation and excellent defense work has earned him tremendous respect in both Federal and State Courts. With over 100 jury trial calls, Mr. Smith has achieved remarkable results in criminal defense cases are too many to mention. However, as an example, he recently brought a case to jury trial and the jury returned a not guilty verdict on two counts of inflicting corporal injury to a cohabitant or spouse. Mr. Smith states, “my client was clearly innocent and in my opinion, the prosecution charged my client with a felony when the evidence was very weak . In another case involving a three strike allegation against his former Marine military police client, Attorney Smith successfully got all charges dismissed after putting on an affirmative defense at preliminary hearing in a highly unorthodox move by a defense attorney. “When I see an opportunity, I will often act our of the instinct I can only attribute to listening to my grandfather and father’s experience and the story I listened to as a child.” Our duty as San Diego defense lawyers is to challenge the prosecution in those cases. A just verdict of “‘not guilty’ has been reached in a long list of cases which shows our dedication to our clients in our pursuit of justice” says Daniel Smith.

Mr. Smith still continues to handle Federal and State cases for the firm. His close attention to detail and professional presentation of mitigating circumstances resulted in a sentence of only one year and a day for his client in a federal bank robbery case in 2009. In 2010, Mr. Smith secured a sentence involving only home-detention for a federal officer after months of negotiations with the federal prosecutor where Mr. Smith took the opportunity to fully explain the circumstances and demonstrate his client’s incredible background of service to the United States. Since 1990, Mr. Smith has defended clients in cases ranging from DUI to homicide with outstanding results. “Every client, I treat as my only client, that is what my father taught me.”

Daniel Smith and his father, Judge Ralph G. Smith, Jr. had the opportunity to write a book available on Amazon entitled “Judge’s Secret Guide to Beating DUI” and Daniel Smith shares much of the knowledge of the differences between the Napoleonic Code, used in much of Latin America, including Mexico, in the website. Daniel Smith is also in the process of sharing more information regarding the heavy handed use of civil and criminal forfeiture used by US Custom and the Border Patrol to seize assets from people unfamiliar with their rights to get their property returned. We hope all this information will benefit the public.


Jon Martin Pettis,
Attorney At Law

graduated from UCLA Law School and was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1995 when he began he devoted his legal career to primarily DUI defense in California. Since that time, Mr. Pettis has the distinction of being one of only a select few DUI lawyers that the San Diego City Attorney and other prosecutors address as formidable opponent worthy of careful consideration before facing off in a DUI or other criminal trial.

That, in simple terms, means that Mr. Pettis will be offered concessions to avoid going to trial that other attorneys would not. That is one of the many reasons Mr. Pettis is considered by many as the best DUI lawyer in San Diego County and all of Southern California for that matter. His command of Constitutional law, Case Law, and Criminal Procedure are second to none.

In his years of law school at UCLA, Mr. Pettis competed and was an award winning Moot Court competitor. Mr. Pettis received his under-graduate degree from UC Santa Cruz and graduated with honors. Mr. Pettis also attended and graduated from the National College of DUI Defense from Harvard Law School while honing his skills in California.

Jon M. Pettis is well regarded by both State and Federal Judges alike in his articulate skills in cross examination of expert witnesses, whom the prosecution depends heavily upon during trial. And for over 18 years, Mr. Pettis has successfully secured not guilty verdicts, dismissals, and uncommonly generous pleas offers in favor of his clients.



San Diego Defenders and attorney Daniel Smith are extremely pleased to be associated with Mr. Pettis. Together, Jon Pettis and Daniel Smith “round table” each case to ensure that every issue is examined from a variety of perspectives and experiences of the two veteran trial lawyers. “Our clients are quite astonished with the creativity of our defense of every type of case ranging from DUI, drug conspiracies, to homicides. And we remind our clients that we will defend them with all our might and the strength of the Constitution of the United States of America.”


Areas of Practice


  • Misdemeanor DUI
  • Underage DUI
  • Felony DUI
  • Hit and Run
  • DUI with GBI
  • DUI as a strike – California Three Strikes Law
  • Vehicular Manslaughter
  • DWI (Other States)

Federal Crimes

It is a crime to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute certain drugs classified as having a potential for abuse. This can refer to substances such as cocaine, heroin, morphine and amphetamines, among others. Drug offenses also include drug trafficking and the unlawful possession of prescription drugs. Possession, cultivation, transportation or sale of marijuana is also a crime under Federal law, and to a somewhat lesser extent, California law.

State Crimes

Criminal Code violations in California began as just Penal Code violations but later expanded into new sections. The most common example is that a DUI used to be a Penal Code Section 502 or a “deuce” in police jargon according to “Police” magazine.



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