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Being accused of criminal activity can be the most tumultuous moment in a person’s life. Overwhelmed with shock and fear, many instinctively turn to the internet, searching for the best criminal defense lawyers in San Diego County. It is a smart move: Anyone undergoing investigation or arrest for criminal charges requires prompt, proficient legal representation.

However, finding the right attorney online is not always easy. The top results on search engines such as Google often populate lawyer directories, including hundreds of attorneys who may not even specialize in criminal defense.

While some directories thoroughly vet their listed lawyers, others place attorneys based on their advertising contributions, leading to confusion and frustration when trying to distill your options to a reliable selection of accomplished criminal defense attorneys in San Diego.

The impact of having the right legal representation when facing criminal charges is monumental. An adept and seasoned criminal defense lawyer can dramatically influence the trajectory of your case.

At The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, we strive to prove every day that we are the best criminal defense attorneys in San Diego County, but we are not the only capable firm in town, and we cannot handle every case ourselves. For that reason, we decided to compile a list of the top 5 best criminal defense lawyers with whom we have seen work in court and whom we know are extremely capable.

We can vouch for both their commitment to justice and their track record of success. We hope to represent you, but if we cannot, this is our shortlist of the best of the best. If you need a criminal defense attorney in San Diego County, start with this list. 

1. The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC

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Kerry Armstrong Attorneys

We would be very pleased if you begin your search with The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC. Renowned for our relentless advocacy and unparalleled expertise, our firm’s track record speaks volumes about our dedication and results.

Kerry L. Armstrong, the founder of this legal consortium, was recently named to the Best Lawyers® And Best Law Firms® for 2024, honors that recognize him as a leading San Diego County criminal defense lawyer. Kerry won the Trial Attorney of the Year award in 2013, given out by the San Diego County Criminal Defense Bar Association every March.

Kerry has tried 100 cases to jury verdict, as well as dozens of bench trials as well. He also has the distinction of being a criminal law specialist certified by the State Bar of California, a distinction that only about fifteen criminal law attorneys have in all of San Diego County.

We believe that the mark of an effective lawyer goes far beyond their defense skills—it’s about how far they are willing to go to protect your best interests. Our commitment to clients combines with a comprehensive understanding of the legal system in California to navigate the complexities of your case with finesse.

A mastery of the courtroom and acute case preparation place Kerry L. Armstrong and our team amid the upper echelons of criminal defense lawyers in San Diego. We have extensive courtroom experience in this state, having been to jury trial over 100 times. Our hard-hitting defense strategies have consistently resulted in favorable verdicts, making us the first choice for many defendants.

2. Badillo Law Firm

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Jose Garza Badillo

Boasting a wealth of experience in handling complex criminal cases, the Badillo Law Firm, led by Jose Garza Badillo, delivers legal representation you can count on.

The firm’s approach extends beyond standard defense strategies, crafting narratives that resonate with the courtroom and are personalized to specific client circumstances. 

Jose’s unwavering commitment to his clients is evident from the outset. A personalized approach has helped him to keep many clients out of prison, including some accused of capital murder.

When you work with Badillo Law Firm, you will be getting high-caliber advocacy aimed at dismissal of charges. If you are faced with a crossroads in a criminal case, you can rely on Badillo Law Firm’s assertive and innovative defense for a fair shot at justice in California.

3. Law Offices of Brian J. White

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Brian J. White

The Law Offices of Brian J. White has a strong reputation across San Diego for criminal representation.

Lead attorney Brian J. White is a certified criminal law specialist, offering a level of expertise sought by many but held by few. His accolades include continuous Super Lawyer titles since 2008, as well as a preeminent AV-rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

Brian’s strategic defense is characterized by thorough preparation and an exceptional understanding of the law’s complexities, giving his clients a legal edge. His clients receive not just zealous legal advocacy but also the compassionate attention they deserve.

The Law Offices of Brian J. White prioritize clear communication and a hands-on approach, offering reassurance in challenging times. People facing criminal charges in California can trust Brian to be a fierce yet thoughtful defense ally.

4. Grimes & Warwick

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Grimes & Warwick

Grimes & Warwick, led by the dynamic duo of Dana Grimes and Jay Temple, is a beacon in San Diego’s criminal defense landscape.

Dedicated solely to criminal defense since 1976, the firm is well-prepared to tackle any criminal case, from DUI defense to complex federal charges. The firm’s enduring legacy is rooted in a steadfast commitment to uphold the constitutional rights of those accused.

The varied experience of Dana and Jay translates to studied, vigorous defenses across diverse case types. They’ve successfully tried jury trials in state and federal court, including murder, rape, wire fraud, mortgage fraud, controlled substances, and much more. Clients can expect smart representation tailored to the nuances of each case.

Revered for meticulous case management, Grimes & Warwick prioritizes legal success alongside maintaining clients’ reputations and futures. This dual focus on strong legal defense and client well-being underpins the firm’s reputation and the trust it commands in the legal community.

5. Sevens Legal, APC

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Sevens Legal, APC

The team at Sevens Legal, APC, brings a passionate and diligent approach to criminal defense.

The firm’s philosophy centers on the belief that representation should be aggressive yet compassionate—a duality that has set its attorneys apart as premier San Diego criminal defense lawyers. Together, the firm leverages more than sixty-five years of combined expertise and litigation success.

Sevens Legal’s passionate pursuit of justice is evident in its meticulous case-building and strategic courtroom advocacy. The firm’s attorneys do not shy away from complexity; instead, they thrive on dissecting it to favor their clients.

As a client, you can expect a personalized attentiveness that ensures you’re not just heard but understood. This personal touch has helped Sevens Legal to build loyal client-attorney relationships and obtain exceptional defense outcomes.

Why You Should Find the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer for You

Choosing the best criminal defense lawyer in San Diego County is a pivotal decision that can significantly impact the outcome of your case and, consequently, your life. In a city known for its rigorous legal system and complex criminal laws, having an exceptional lawyer by your side is not just an advantage—it’s a necessity.

Legal Knowledge

First and foremost, a stellar San Diego County criminal defense lawyer brings to the table an in-depth understanding of local laws and the intricacies of the Californian legal framework. This knowledge is crucial for navigating the complex terrain of criminal defense successfully.

A top-notch lawyer knows how to leverage this expertise to find holes in the prosecution’s case, negotiate better plea deals, or present a compelling case in court that increases the likelihood of a favorable verdict.


Moreover, experience plays a monumental role. The best criminal defense lawyers have years of trial experience, which is invaluable. They have honed their skills in the courtroom, know how to handle unexpected turns in a trial, and can effectively communicate with judges and juries.

This experience also means they have a comprehensive understanding of prosecutorial strategies and can anticipate the other side’s moves, turning potential challenges into opportunities for their defense.

Defense Resources

Having a strong support network and reliable resources is another critical factor. Top criminal defense lawyers in San Diego County have access to a vast network of investigators, experts, and other resources that can strengthen your defense. They can uncover evidence, identify key witnesses, and employ cutting-edge technology to build a robust case in your favor.


Finally, the personal impact of having the best representation cannot be overstated. Facing criminal charges is a stressful ordeal that can affect your peace of mind, reputation, and future.

An exceptional criminal defense lawyer offers not just legal representation but also guidance, support, and understanding throughout this challenging process. They stand as your advocate, tirelessly working to protect your rights and secure a future unburdened by the weight of criminal charges.

In essence, selecting the best criminal defense lawyer in San Diego County is an investment in your future and freedom. Their expertise, experience, resources, and personal dedication can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case, offering you the best possible chance to move forward with your life.

Contact the Best of the Best Today

When the gavel falls, the quality of your defense can mean the difference between a hopeful future and compromised liberty. The selection of your criminal defense lawyer in San Diego County is a decisive factor in this equation. With the five sterling law firms listed here, you are equipped with information about the top legal minds ready to safeguard your rights.

As you confront the legal challenge ahead, entrust your fate to a legal champion from this list. Each firm embodies the blend of experience, skill, and dedication needed to craft a defense that stands resolute against criminal charges. The pathway to justice begins with a choice; make yours a firm that can weather the storm and emerge victorious.

Start your journey by contacting The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, today. We’re standing by to provide a free consultation on your legal needs.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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