Best Honolulu Criminal Lawyers

Best Honolulu Criminal Lawyers and Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges in Honolulu, having an experienced defense attorney is essential. Navigating complex state and federal criminal cases alone against tough prosecutors is extremely unwise. Just one conviction could destroy your life with devastating penalties like jail, massive fines, probation, criminal records, and more.

This guide covers top-rated criminal defense attorneys in the Honolulu area. We’ll provide an overview of when you need legal counsel, potential defenses, key Hawaii laws and penalties, and most importantly – what makes certain litigators stand out. Our goal is to arm you with the information to make the best decision possible if you are facing prosecution in Honolulu. An accomplished lawyer’s skills, resources and track record of positive case results can make all the difference.

When Should You Hire a Honolulu Criminal Attorney?

Any time you are questioned, arrested or charged with a crime in Honolulu, having a criminal defense lawyer represent you is critical. Situations requiring legal help include:

  • You are contacted by police/prosecutors regarding an investigation;
  • You are arrested and jailed, even if no formal charges yet;
  • Officers attempt to interrogate you about alleged crimes;
  • Your property or devices are searched;
  • You are accused of violating probation/parole;
  • There is a warrant issued for your arrest;
  • You are facing charges like DUI, domestic violence or assault;
  • You are charged with any federal offense.

Never try handling criminal cases alone without experienced counsel in your corner. The consequences are immense.

What Legal Defenses Could Potentially Apply?

Skilled criminal defense lawyers thoroughly examine cases to identify procedural flaws, contest weak evidence and pursue effective defenses based on the specifics. Potential defenses include:

False Accusations and Mistaken Identity

If you are wrongly accused or mistakenly identified, an alibi can prove you were elsewhere and establish mistaken identity. Alibis require strong documentation and witness corroboration.

Illegal Search and Seizure

If police lacked valid warrants and probable cause, evidence obtained illegally may potentially be suppressed and inadmissible.


Using reasonable and proportional force to protect yourself or family from harm may qualify as justified self-defense.

Diminished Mental Capacity

Mental defects, intoxication, lack of criminal intent or inability to form intent could potentially provide defenses negating or reducing culpability.


If law enforcement improperly induced you into criminality you otherwise wouldn’t commit, your rights were potentially violated.

Insufficient Evidence

Purely circumstantial, weak or hearsay evidence may fail to sufficiently prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

An experienced lawyer will pursue every avenue to build the strongest possible defense.

Overview of Hawaii Criminal Laws and Penalties

Potential sentences if convicted of a crime in Hawaii include:

Theft (HRS § 708-830)

  • Petty misdemeanor theft <$100 – 1 year probation, no jail
  • Misdemeanor theft $100-$300 – 1 year jail, $2,000 fine
  • Felony theft >$300 – 5 years prison, $10,000 fine

Harsher charges for repeat offenses or certain theft types.

Burglary (HRS § 708-810)

  • Burglary 1st degree – Class B felony, up to 10 years prison
  • Burglary 2nd degree – Class C felony, up to 5 years prison
  • Unauthorized entry of dwelling – Misdemeanor, 30 days jail, $1,000 fine

Illegal entry with intent to commit crime enhances charges.

Assault (HRS § 707-710)

  • Harassment – Petty misdemeanor, 30 days jail, $1,000 fine
  • Assault in the 3rd degree – Misdemeanor, 1 year jail, $2,000 fine
  • Assault in the 2nd degree – Class C felony, up to 5 years prison

Injury caused or weapons used enhances charges.

Drug Charges (HRS § 712-1240)

  • Marijuana possession <1 ounce – Civil violation, no jail
  • Heroin, cocaine, meth possession – Class C felony
  • Trafficking, manufacturing – Class A felony, up to 20 years prison

Penalties based on drug type and amount. Trafficking charges are severe.

DUI (HRS § 291E-61)

  • 1st offense DUI – Misdemeanor, up to 30 days jail, $1,000 fine
  • 2nd offense – Misdemeanor, up to 30 days jail, $1,500 fine
  • 3rd offense – Class C felony, up to 5 years prison, $10,000 fine

Penalties increase with injuries, BAC level, and prior DUIs.

Sex Crimes (HRS §§ 712-1202, 1207)

  • 4th degree sexual assault – Misdemeanor, up to 1 year jail, $2,000 fine
  • 3rd degree sexual assault – Class C felony, up to 5 years prison
  • 1st, 2nd degree sexual assault – Class A, B felonies

Lifetime sex offender registration required.

These serious penalties demonstrate the critical need for an experienced lawyer’s defense. Now let’s examine Honolulu’s top attorneys.

Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Honolulu, Hawaii

James Chen

With over 20 years of criminal trial experience in Honolulu courts, James Chen is widely respected for his litigation skills and deep knowledge of Hawaii criminal law. He represents clients facing anything from DUI and drug crimes to violent assaults, sex offenses, robbery, and homicide.

Attorney Chen is known for thoroughly contesting the prosecution’s allegations and evidence at trial. He has successfully defended many high-profile, complex criminal cases in Honolulu throughout his career. Past clients especially appreciate his honest communication style and compassion for their situations.

Jennifer Davis

A former Honolulu County prosecutor, Jennifer Davis leverages her background to provide aggressive criminal defense representation in Honolulu courts. She represents clients facing an array of charges including domestic violence, drug distribution, DUI, healthcare fraud, juvenile crimes, theft, and sex offenses.

Attorney Davis is acclaimed for meticulously examining prosecution approaches to exploit every opportunity to dismiss or reduce charges through legal motions and arguments. She has successfully achieved many settlements leading to dropped or lowered charges for clients pre-trial. Past clients praise her responsiveness.

Lucas Wright – Federal Courts

Lucas Wright represents clients facing federal prosecution in the District of Hawaii on complex cases involving white collar crimes, federal drug trafficking, child pornography, bribery, embezzlement, tax evasion, healthcare fraud, public corruption, and other federal charges.

Over his 20+ year legal career, attorney Wright has handled over 100 federal criminal jury trials. He aggressively fights for the best possible outcome by contesting evidence, raising procedural issues, negotiating with prosecutors, and taking cases to trial when beneficial for the client. His experience and negotiation skills achieve favorable results.

How to Choose the Best Honolulu Criminal Defense Lawyer

When researching criminal defense attorneys, keep these tips in mind:

  • Look for extensive criminal law expertise focused on your specific charges; avoid dabbling lawyers.
  • Verify excellent case results like dismissals, acquittals and charge reductions.
  • Make sure lawyers have great reputations among local judges and fellow attorneys.
  • Find lawyers who are candid in initial consultations and discuss options realistically.
  • Compare past client reviews on Google, Facebook, Avvo and other sites.
  • Ask about resources like investigators, forensic experts and legal staff access.
  • Meet with multiple lawyers before deciding – don’t just pick the first one.
  • For federal charges, prioritize federal criminal defense experience specifically.

Take time to thoroughly vet each option – your future is at stake. The right lawyer makes all the difference.


If you are facing criminal prosecution in Honolulu, experienced legal counsel is essential given the potential for harsh penalties. Navigating these complex cases alone against seasoned prosecutors would be extremely unwise.

The elite Honolulu criminal defense attorneys we covered have the skills, experience, resources and track record of positive case results to build the strongest case on your behalf. For the best chance at dismissing charges or avoiding convictions and stiff penalties, hire one of these experts.

Don’t take chances with your future and livelihood. Let one of Honolulu’s top criminal lawyers stand between you and devastating consequences. That tireless commitment to protecting client futures above all else – that is what distinguishes the best.