• 1350 Columbia Street, Suite 600, San Diego, California 92101

Criminal Defense Lawyers

  • Fearless Trial Advocacy
  • Aggressive Motions Practice
  • Unwavering Client Loyalty
An arrest or criminal conviction can have life-altering consequences. We fight for every client. The foundation of our practice fighting for every client to achieve the best possible outcome.
With decades of experience in both State and Federal court, the McKenzie Scott team has been successful handling a variety of criminal defense cases:
  • Serious Felonies Charged in Superior Court
  • Federal Criminal Charges Nationwide
  • Healthcare, Financial, Racketeering, and other Frauds
  • White-Collar or Trade Secrets Investigations
  • Murder, Terrorism, and Violent Crimes
  • Rape, Assault, and other Sex Offenses
  • Child Pornography and Internet Crimes
  • Serious Drug Charges (Trafficking, Transportation, Distribution, Sale, Conspiracy, etc.)
  • Juvenile Crimes
If you’ve been charged with a serious crime, you owe it to yourself and your family to obtain the best criminal defense representation available. Some cases should result in a negotiated plea-but only as a last resort. McKenzie Scott PC can help.

Ready to fight for justice after being charged with a criminal offense? Contact McKenzie Scott for a case evaluation at (619) 794.0451.

Why Should I Choose McKenzie Scott Criminal Defense Lawyers?

The criminal defense team at McKenzie Scott is dedicated to taking on the power of the government. We will develop an aggressive, precise defense strategy tailored to your unique case and charge(s). The results speak for themselves. Some recent successes in criminal matters include:

United States v. Client – Summer 2022

In a case involving Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants and alleged (though disputed) national-security issues, a foreign-born man was charged as the lead defendant in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud. We argued for over a year that the FBI seized evidence based on untrue claims about our client and the investigation illegal, and requested a rare “Franks hearing.” After multiple agents were forced to testify under oath, the U.S. District Judge agreed that the investigation by the FBI and IRS violated our client’s rights because they acted “in reckless disregard for the truth.” McKenzie Scott’s criminal defense lawyers prevailed and evidence from a multiple search warrants was tossed out. This result-not just obtaining a “Franks hearing,” but winning a Franks hearing-is exceedingly rare in federal criminal practice. It is only the most recent example of McKenzie Scott’s dedication to our clients.

People v. Client – Summer 2022

Our client was accused of embezzling funds from his employer for more than a decade. Our investigation and arguments challenging the District Attorney’s evidence led the prosecutors to dismiss all felony charges.

People v. Client – Spring 2022

Our client was charged in a healthcare fraud conspiracy and faced years in prison because of a white-collar crime enhancement. But we filed motions arguing the prosecutor failed to properly draft the charges. The Superior Court agreed – the charges were dismissed. After repeatedly trying to re-file the same charges and facing new rounds of litigation from McKenzie Scott lawyers, the District Attorney finally agreed to dismiss case permanently.

People v. Client – Summer 2022

Our client faced gun charges, but we argued a variety of the charges had to be dismissed because they were improper or unconstitutional. Rather than fight the legal motions, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case and immediately seal the arrest records if our client remained out of trouble for a period of months.

United States v. Client – Spring 2022

Our client was arrested with a large amount of pure methamphetamine hidden inside his vehicle at the Port of Entry. He was indicted for a federal drug trafficking crime and faced a minimum of ten years in prison. After we swiftly investigated and pressed the case to trial, the Government dismissed all charges.

United States v. Client – Summer 2021

Our client fled law enforcement while towing a trailer with more than a 1,000 lbs of illegal controlled substances. We decided to fight the case, arguing the Government improperly delayed our client’s trial and withheld evidence. Rather than fight the motion and risk losing, the Government agreed to dismiss all the charges except a basic traffic ticket.

People v. Client – Winter 2020

Our client, a lawyer himself, was charged with felony witness-intimidation based on his attempt to get her to testify in a civil case related to then-pending criminal-fraud charges. We believed the charges to be unsupported and unconstitutional. The Superior Court in Riverside agreed – the judge dismissed the charges for lack of evidence and deemed our client factually innocent.

We prepare every case for the prospect of trial-and we try more than anyone. Some recent victories at trial include:

  • Not guilty on 22 counts (federal trade secret theft case in the District of Utah)
  • Not guilty (federal drug importation, Southern District of California)
  • Dismissed mid-trial after the government rested its case (illegal entry)
  • Trial conviction reversed on appeal (securities fraud)
  • Trial conviction reversed on appeal, new trial granted (solicitation to murder federal charge)
  • Not guilty verdict on all counts (federal health care fraud)
  • Not guilty on all counts (securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud)
  • Hung jury/mistrial (federal drug conspiracy)

Ready to fight for justice after being charged with a criminal offense? Contact McKenzie Scott for a case evaluation at (619) 794.0451.

Ready to pursue justice for your criminal case? Contact the experienced and proven attorneys at McKenzie Scott for a case evaluation at 619-794-0451.

Need to speak to a criminal defense lawyer? McKenzie Scott fights for the little guy. Contact us for a case evaluation at 619-794-0451.

At McKenzie Scott, our proven criminal defense lawyers offer clients unparalleled experience and dedication. We have been fighting for decades to protect against government overreach, and our results speak for themselves. Contact us today at (619) 794.0451 for a case evaluation.

Have Questions About What Happens in a Criminal Case?

We recommend calling to schedule a consultation. Every case is different, but the sequence of key events is often the same. You should assemble the best defense team you can as early in the process as possible. Here are some of the key phases of a case and where McKenzie Scott can help.

1. The Investigation

The simplest and often best way to win a criminal case is to prevent one from ever being filed. At McKenzie Scott we integrate a deep understanding of law enforcement investigative practices to help clients avoid charges altogether. Criminal cases almost never start in the prosecutor’s office. Instead, an investigating agency like the local police, sheriffs, or FBI discover what they believe is a crime and do their best to piece together the details so that they can later recommend charges to prosecuting attorneys. Aggressive defense attorneys, like the McKenzie Scott team, can help limit the early risk that law enforcement will focus on you during this process and help you avoid charges altogether. The best defense attorneys know the tools local and federal investigators use to dig up evidence. Some of the tools law enforcement can use include:

A. Grand Jury Subpoenas

– These are subpoenas issued by a group of citizens meeting in secret under the control and guidance of prosecutors to try to bring charges. They are semi-secret and can either compel a witness to come in for questioning or require someone to provide documents. If you receive a grand jury subpoena, you should contact a defense attorney right away. Even if you do not know it, you may be the target of an investigation or at risk of becoming the target. McKenzie Scott attorneys can help advise you on what to do, help contest or dispute demands, and advise you on whether you should answer questions at all;

B. Search Warrants

– These are court orders authorizing law enforcement to search for evidence, seize evidence, or both. To get a warrant, investigators have to convince a judge that there is probable cause to believe they will find evidence of a crime in a particular place. Everyone in the United States has a Constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures and there are a lot of legal rules protecting us all from improper search warrants. However, government investigators do not always follow the rules. McKenzie Scott attorneys have successfully challenged search warrants in both state and federal court – proving repeatedly that law enforcement agents at every level (from the police to the FBI) continue to mislead judges and abuse search warrants to get evidence in violation of the Constitution. When you hire McKenzie Scott to help defend against an investigation, you know you are getting attorneys at the cutting edge of litigation to protect our rights under the Fourth Amendment.

Law enforcement use these and a variety of other legal (and illegal) methods to collect information about the public. If you or someone you love is contacted by law enforcement, you should consult with an attorney before participating in their investigation in any way. Law enforcement sometimes lie (both legally and illegally) and they are not required to tell you if you are their target. The attorneys at McKenzie Scott can advise you on how you should deal with law enforcement before an investigation spirals into a major problem in your life or formal charges.

2. The Prosecutor’s Decision Whether or Not to Bring Charges

Just because investigators think they have a case, does not mean the prosecutors have to file charges. McKenzie Scott often engages, negotiates, and disputes the facts of a case with prosecutors before charges are filed and before anything becomes public. Those accused of crimes are presumed innocent, but people accused of crimes still face serious consequences in their lives – even if they win. Once charges are filed, the publicity, possible arrest, bond conditions, and court procedures all take a toll on the life of the accused. People experience the shame of suspicion, lose their livelihoods, lose trust, and suffer a variety of personal and professional consequences whenever charges are filed. At McKenzie Scott PC, we understand the remarkable toll a criminal case can have on anyone suspected and accused of a crime – whether they committed it or not. Wherever possible, we strive to prevent charges from being filed and to minimize the fallout and collateral consequences if they are.

3. The Court Process

Almost every case, whether it is in state court or federal court, will require you or your attorneys appear before the judge several times. Since each case follows a different path and calls for a different strategy, we’ll try here to describe some of the major events in most cases and where McKenzie Scott PC often fights for clients to get the best possible results.

A. The Arraignment

Different courts follow different procedures at the beginning of a case, but they all have a few things in common. The prosecutors have to file a document describing the crime they believe you committed, the Court has to ensure you know the charges, and the Judge has to decide if you will remain out-of-custody and under what conditions. Although these initial steps are sometimes handled quickly and with little effect on the remainder of the case, they can be immensely important. For example, if the prosecutors or investigators have made mistakes in drafting the charges, the judge can dismiss the case completely before it even really begins. McKenzie Scott attorneys have successfully gotten major cases dismissed at their beginning by meticulously combing over the charges and understanding the legal complexities each charge creates for prosecutors. Additionally, McKenzie Scott attorneys will tirelessly fight for you to remain out of custody during a criminal case. We understand that even if you lose the case later, staying out-of-custody can have a major effect on the final outcome. No one should be stuck in jail, unable to handle their affairs and kiss their loved ones, just because they are accused of a crime.

B. Criminal Discovery and Investigation

Regardless of whether you are innocent or guilty, intimate knowledge of the facts is key to a good defense strategy. “Discovery” is the legal process of exchanging records with the other side in a case. In criminal cases, we use it to investigate the prosecution’s case. It is the Government’s obligation to prove any charges beyond a reasonable doubt, so we always aggressively search for weaknesses in the evidence – often going to court to demand documents the government is trying to bury or refuses to turn over out of fear. Meanwhile, we conduct investigations of our own with trusted, experienced investigators who can help us find evidence and witnesses that law enforcement may not even know exists.

C. Pretrial Litigation and Motions Practice

Whether it is necessary to ensure a client’s rights are protected, gain leverage in negotiations, or to keep bad evidence from coming out, the best trial attorneys know that pretrial litigation (and the credible threat of litigation) can give you the upper hand in many cases. McKenzie Scott has earned a reputation for aggressive litigation and motions practice. We’ve fought hundreds of pretrial motions for clients and know how to successfully persuade judges with legal research, writing, and testimony.

D. Trial

At trial, the Government has to burden of presenting evidence (witnesses and records) to try to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed a crime. The defense has an opportunity to contest their evidence, present evidence of our own in rebuttal, and argue the case to the jury. All twelve jurors must unanimously agree on a verdict, otherwise the case results in a mistrial. The McKenzie Scott team are among the most accomplished trial attorneys out there. Our trial attorneys recently persuaded a jury to award the largest civil rights verdict in history ($85 million) after local law enforcement killed a man during an arrest in 2015. In the criminal context, we’ve take tough cases to trial and won.

Whereas other attorneys pick and choose a handful of results to advertise on their websites, we are so confident that our trial results are exemplary that we post them all publicly (with client information redacted). We’ve lost some, it is true, but we’ve won a lot of criminal cases that went to trial – far more than the Government would like. By retaining McKenzie Scott, you get the benefit of our trial experience and reputation for success even if your case never goes to trial. Prosecutors know our reputation for aggressively litigating cases before, during, and after trial. No prosecutor wants to be our next victory.

E. Sentencing (If Necessary)

From the moment someone fears they are under investigation onward, most people are afraid of a potential criminal sentence. If you are ever convicted of a crime – whether a jury found you guilty or you pled guilty – the potential sentence is probably one of the most stressful and important things in your life. When you’re facing time in prison, at risk of losing time with loved ones, or concerned about your life and liberty, you want to know that you have lawyers who you can trust to fight for the best outcome possible. For those clients who must face sentencing, we are proud to always remain loyal by continuing to fight to keep clients out of prison, to mitigate the consequences of a conviction, and to help clients navigate our broken carceral systems. When prosecutors argue for years in prison, we’ve repeatedly succeeded in persuading judges otherwise. We never want to see a client sentenced at all, but when it happens, we tirelessly work to get the best outcome possible.

F. Appeal

The judge or jury first assigned to a case do not have the final word on whether someone is guilty or received a fair sentence. If the judge or jury made any mistakes, you can sometimes appeal to a court with more authority to fix those mistakes. The same talents, experience, and work ethic that make us successful in trial court have also served us well in persuading appellate judges. Our team at McKenzie Scott is proud to have a successful appellate practice, often persuading judges to undo a conviction or sentence.

G. Collateral Attack or Habeas Petition

Even if you’ve been convicted and lost your direct appeal, you may still have options. Our court system allows prisoners to challenge their convictions or sentences even after they lost in a direct appeal if their Constitutional rights were violated or they are factually innocent of the charges. If you or a loved one have been unjustly convicted of a crime or sentenced, the experienced attorneys at McKenzie Scott can advise you whether you may be successful in challenging your conviction in a new way. These types of claims require unique legal expertise and are often subject to unfair time limits. We encourage you to consult an attorney without delay.

Ready to fight for justice after being charged with a criminal offense? Contact McKenzie Scott for a case evaluation at (619) 794.0451.

Ready to pursue justice for your civil rights violation? Contact the experienced and proven attorneys at McKenzie Scott for a case evaluation at 619-794-0451.


Note: To protect client privacy, names of the accused in criminal cases have been omitted.

UNITED STATES V. AN INDIVIDUAL CASE NO. 13CR0885-GW (2020); 15-50445 (9TH CIR. 2018).

Federal wire fraud case dismissed in entirety after trial and successful appeal.


Obtained policy-limits award of $1,250,000.00 in automobile-accident civil case.


Drug-importation charges with alleged confession, not guilty on all charges.


Securities-fraud conviction reversed on all counts, new trial ordered.


Respected scientist accused of theft of trade secrets in 20-count federal indictment. Not guilty on all charges. (Co-counsel John C. Lemon).


Federal drug and counterfeit indictment dismissed as result of Orange County jail scandal litigation and finding of Brady violation.


Conviction for soliciting the murder of a federal judge reversed in its entirety, new trial ordered.

U.S. v. An Individual [07cr00195-L-1]

Federal Drug-Importation Guilty.

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