David J. Cohen

Firm Owner / Senior Attorney

David J. Cohen is an experienced Bay Area based criminal defense attorney. He has tried over 45 federal and state criminal cases to juries, and briefed and argued more than 60 federal and state criminal appeals. He has experience working with both major law firms and with the government.

Mr. Cohen has defended criminal cases, both state and federal, large and small, first as a federal public defender in San Diego, California, then as a partner in firms he founded and managed.

He began his legal career in New York City in 1987, practicing with two well-known law firms, Brown & Wood, L.L.P. and Kostelanetz Ritholz Tigue & Fink. At Kostelanetz Ritholz, a nationally recognized white collar criminal defense firm, Mr. Cohen successfully defended criminal and civil cases, including the defense at trial of an individual alleged to have violated the federal laws against hijacking, and winning judgment in a federal tax court case involving the use of a complex tax shelter.

In 1989 Mr. Cohen relocated to California, where he joined the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc., widely acknowledged to be one of the best public defender offices in the country. As a trial attorney at Federal Defender’s of San Diego, Inc., he represented hundreds of criminal defendants on a wide variety of matters ranging from drug offenses and violent crimes to complex fraud cases. Despite limited resources, he was able to win acquittal, hung juries, or dismissals in the majority of the cases he tried at the federal defenders office. He also lectured on criminal defense topics, and authored an article for the nationally circulated Federal Defender Manual.

Following his service as a federal public defender, Mr. Cohen formed the law firm of Cohen & Hubachek in San Diego, California. At the firm, he defended both state and federal criminal matters. He was lead counsel in a number of lengthy federal criminal jury trials and briefed and argued a number of federal criminal appeals. In the area of white collar criminal defense, Mr. Cohen won the dismissals of three major securities and mail fraud indictments arising from multi-year and multi-agency investigations. The subject matter of the cases he has defended includes mail fraud, wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, weapons offenses, violent crime, narcotics offenses, conspiracy, forfeiture, and extradition.

Since 1996, Mr. Cohen has practiced in San Francisco, California, first establishing a satellite office for Cohen & Hubachek, and then opening the firm Bay Area Criminal Lawyers, PC. He has continued his emphasis on white collar criminal defense, including the defense of the first federal computer crimes jury trial in the Northern District of California and the defense of two of the largest securities fraud cases ever brought in that district.

On the federal level, Mr. Cohen continues to represent clients charged in large drug conspiracies, complex fraud schemes, gun possession, and a variety of other offenses.

In addition, Mr. Cohen has handled a number of state court trials in the past five years, including the representation of clients charged with violent felonies, Three Strikes Cases, drug, narcotic, and weapons offenses, sex offenses, and persons charged with crimes as juveniles.

In 2017, Mr. Cohen opened a new branch office in Dublin, California to better serve the growing number of criminal cases stemming from Alameda County. Mr. Cohen is an active member of the Alameda Criminal Court Appointed Attorneys Program (CAAP). Mr. Cohen regularly represents criminal matters in Alameda County, including clients charged with murder and serious felonies.

Mr. Cohen continually hones his advocacy skills by participating in seminars and conferences pertaining to jury trial techniques and advances of technology and defense tactics in the area of white collar crime.

As a dedicated Bay Area criminal defense attorney, Mr. Cohen utilizes his experience and knowledge to give back to the legal community as Chair of The State Bar of California, Criminal Law Advisory Commission where he has volunteered numerous hours since joining the commission in 2014.

David J. COhen San Francisco Lawyer


  • Amherst College (B.A., cum laude, 1983);
  • University of Chicago (J.D., 1986).


  • U.S. Supreme Court;
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit;
  • U.S. District Court, Northern, Southern and Eastern Districts of California;
  • U.S. District Court, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York;
  • U.S. Tax Court; State Bar of California;
  • State Bar of New York;
  • American Bar Association including Sections on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, Criminal Justice, Labor and Employment Law and Litigation;
  • Association of Trial Lawyers of America;
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice;
  • California State Bar Association including Section on Criminal Law;
  • Federal Bar Association;
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers;
  • New York State Bar Association;
  • San Diego County Bar Association;
  • San Diego Trial Lawyers Association;
  • Alameda County Criminal Court Appointed Attorneys Program (CAAP);
  • Alameda County Bar Association;
  • The State Bar of California, Criminal Law Advisory Commission to the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization-Chair


  • Author of article “Common Federal Offenses and Issues” which was nationally circulated in the Federal Defender Manual.
  • Contributing author of “Chapter 7: Forensic Toxicology and the Use of Drug Evidence in the Courtroom,” published in CEB Manual “Scientific Evidence in Criminal Cases,” (Sept. 2009). This manual is used by criminal defense attorneys throughout the state of California as a resource.
  • Author of James Publishing’s Ninth Circuit Criminal Law Reporter. The Ninth Circuit Criminal Law Reporter is a bi-weekly publication that summarizes all ninth circuit and U.S. Supreme Court decisions published since 1983. It is a widely used publication of up to date published decisions used by defense attorneys and prosecutors alike.

Reported Cases

  • United States v. Hickey, 367 F.3d 888 (9th Cir. 2004); SEC v. Hickey, 322 F.3d 1123 (9th Cir. 2003);
  • United States v. Hardeman, 206 F.3d (9th Cir. 2000), amended, 249 F.3d 826 (9th Cir. 2001);
  • United States v. Daas, 198 F.3d 1167 (9th Cir. 1999);
  • United States v. Hickey, 185 F.3d 1064 (9th Cir. 1999);
  • United States v. Middleton, 35 F.Supp. 2d 1189 (N.D. Cal. 1999);
  • United States v. Hickey, 997 F.Supp. 1206 (N.D. Cal. 1998);
  • United States v. James Hernandez, 109 F.3d 1450 (9th Cir. 1997);
  • United States v. James Hernandez, 27 F.3d 1403 (9th Cir. 1994);
  • In re Extradition of Garcia and Zamora, 890 F. Supp. 914 (S.D. Cal. 1994);
  • United States v. Arana, 981 F2d 1044 (9th Cir. 1992) (see dissent in companion case)
  • United States v. Gonzalez, 981 F.2d 1037, 1038-44 (9th Cir. 1992);
  • United States v. Jose Hernandez, 952 F.2d 1110 (9th Cir. 1991);
  • United States v. Stout, 936 F.2d 433 (9th Cir. 1991);
  • United States v. Arias-Granados, 923 F.2d 1387 (9th Cir. 1991);
  • Sislik v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 58 T.C.M. (CCH) 115 (1989).