Practice Areas

The McDonnell Law Firm, Inc. provides comprehensive criminal defense representation to clients in Los Angeles and Orange counties and throughout Southern California. With more than 60 years of collective legal experience, our attorneys are widely recognized for their trial expertise. We have the skills and background to fight the charges against you and offer sound legal advice throughout every stage of the criminal defense process.

At The McDonnell Law Firm, we approach every client’s case with aggressive and innovative strategies, maximizing the opportunity for dismissal, acquittal, and reduced sentencing. Our attorneys have experience defending clients against virtually any criminal charge, including:

Drug Crimes

When a defendant is facing drug charges, the prosecution typically relies on the introduction of physical evidence — in many cases, the drugs themselves — and officer testimony to obtain a conviction. With decades of trial experience and an in-depth understanding of criminal law and procedure, we have a keen eye for constitutional violations committed during the detention, search, arrest, and interrogation that led to your criminal charges. In some situations, these violations may allow our attorneys to have the charges reduced or dismissed prior to trial if the evidence needed to obtain a conviction was unlawfully obtained.

The California Health and Safety Code imposes significant penalties for those convicted of possessing, distributing, transporting, or manufacturing controlled substances. Despite the threat of jail time and other harsh sentencing, California Proposition 36, also known as the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, opens a pathway for criminal defendants to avoid a life of repeat offenses and extended prison sentences. In situations when a conviction is unavoidable, our attorneys have extensive experience working with judges and prosecutors to obtain alternative sentencing and reduced penalties for their clients.


Driving under the influence (DUI, also known as DWI, or driving while intoxicated) is among the most common charge defendants face in California. Along with the criminal consequences of a conviction, the loss of your driver’s license can have a devastating impact on your ability to maintain employment. Repeat DUI offenders face especially tough battles, as the penalties dramatically increase for multiple convictions and the courts are less likely to show leniency.

The first element of The McDonnell Law Firm representation for DUI offenses is a comprehensive effort to preserve your driving privileges. In many cases, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will allow a temporary permit following a DUI arrest so that you can continue to commute to work. The second crucial element involves defending against DUI charges in criminal court. In some cases, convictions can be avoided when the police officer failed to adhere to constitutional requirements or made a procedural error.

Also vital to your defense is the fact that DUI penalties are largely at the judge’s discretion when it comes to the fine, jail time, and probation required. Our familiarity with the Los Angeles and Orange County criminal courts often enables us to seek minimal sentencing for our clients, giving them an opportunity to put this experience behind them.

Three Strikes Cases

In California, “strike” offenses can lead to enhanced penalties and mandatory prison sentences. When a defendant has prior convictions for a violent or serious felony, California’s Three Strikes Law greatly increases the likelihood of a lengthy prison sentence over alternative sentencing such as probation and drug treatment programs. Criminal cases often come down to pretrial negotiations between the defense lawyer, the prosecutor, and the judge, with the judge holding the discretion to determine the type of charge and level of penalty to be pursued by the prosecution. Our attorneys often successfully convince the court to consider non-strike offenses against our clients, helping clients avoid the serious ramifications of strike convictions.

Domestic Violence

The stakes involved in a domestic violence charge are especially high. In many cases, a conviction can result in a partial or permanent loss of your right to see your children. We understand the emotionally charged nature of these cases, where a conviction may often come down to the testimony of a loved one. Our independent investigation of the charges against you can uncover any inconsistencies in testimony and expose weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, protecting your rights and keeping your family together.

Sex Offenses

When an individual is accused of a sex crime, the personal, social, and professional ramifications can be devastating, even if the charges are ultimately dropped or a verdict of not guilty is reached. The stigma associated with sexual misconduct can impact your ability to obtain future employment, not to mention be detrimental to your relationship with family and friends. In addition, if convicted, Megan’s Law requires your name and address to be publicly listed on the internet, subjecting you to further persecution regardless of the severity of your offense. We can help mitigate the consequences of a sex offense investigation or charge.

Violent Crimes

While we typically do not handle death penalty cases, our attorneys have extensive experience representing defendants accused of serious felonies related to violent acts. The McDonnell Law Firm has the expertise and trial experience to appear on your behalf for a variety of these charges, including assault, manslaughter, and even murder. In many situations, these crimes carry enhanced sentencing because the prosecution characterizes the conduct as gang-related. We can help you defeat charges of gang-affiliation in an effort to minimize the impact of a conviction.

Theft Crimes

We also help clients accused of theft-related offenses, including robbery, burglary, and embezzlement. Many of these crimes can be classified as a felony, which increases the likelihood of a prison sentence. Theft crimes also typically involve a restitution penalty upon conviction, requiring the defendant to financially compensate the victim for the value of the assets that were wrongfully taken. Our attorneys regularly help clients accused of these crimes, including defendants who are classified as repeat offenders due to prior theft-related convictions.

Federal Crimes

Some of the practice areas above can involve federal offenses as well, which can result in even more significant penalties. For example, drug offenses that involve transporting controlled substances across state or national borders for sale are often investigated and prosecuted by federal authorities. Along with our decades of criminal experience in state courts, our attorneys have extensive experience and familiarity defending clients in California’s federal court system.

Juvenile Delinquency

Our attorneys also have experience representing minors who are facing juvenile charges or are under investigation for criminal activity. While minors may face less stringent sentencing and criminal record implications, juvenile offenses can have a devastating impact on a child’s life into adulthood and should not be taken lightly. We can help your child confront his or her mistakes and seek a fresh start before it is too late.

Seek Experienced Legal Counsel

If you are facing criminal charges in Orange County or Los Angeles County and need an experienced defense lawyer, contact The McDonnell Law Firm today. We offer free consultations, are available 24-7 by appointment, and members of our staff speak Spanish.