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Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
John D. Kirby in San Diego, CA



As a former Federal Prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, John’s strategies are built on insider knowledge and hard line negotiation.


His comprehensive criminal defense practice in both national and international arenas have won him the respect and trust of judges and prosecutors.


John built his reputation by defending some of the nation’s highest profile public officials, corporations, and senior executives.

John D. Kirby, Federal Criminal Lawyer, San Diego CA


“Criminal Law is in my blood at this point. This is what I know. This is where I win.”

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A Commitment To Excellence

Attorney John D. Kirby graduated magna cum laude from the university of Southern California and cum laude from Cornell Law School. He began his legal career at the prestigious Washington D.C. law firm of Covington & Burling and then spent more than a decade as a federal prosecutor at the United States Attorneys Office in the Southern District of California.

During his time at Covington, he represented various high-profile and multimillion-dollar cases with outstanding results. His incredible work ethic and instinct landed him a distinguished position with the United States Government.

As an Assistant United States Attorney he handled a variety of serious criminal investigations and prosecutions, and received numerous awards for his work. These unique experiences have made him an expert in federal criminal law, and given him a deep understanding of how the prosecution will build a case against you.

For over 25 years, John David Kirby has defended and protect the rights of his clients with unparalleled success.

John D. Kirby first worked for Covington and Burling.

Extensive Insight About The Workings of Criminal Prosecution

At the Law Offices of John D. Kirby, our insight into the role of the federal criminal prosecutor means we know who our opponents are and we understand their tactics. We know how to get things done, even in the most complex cases involving federal white collar crimes and federal drug crimes. We will move quickly in order to protect your interests and your future. Federal criminal defense is an art, and we have proven ourselves to be artists.

Whether you are under investigation or you have been charged with a crime, you want to make certain that your interests and your future are protected. Seek representation from an experienced and trusted criminal defense attorney. Our law firm’s clients are personally represented by attorney John D. Kirby.

Business and Financial Fraud →
Drug Charges →
Money Laundering & Embezzlement →
SEC Violations Securities Fraud →
FDA Defense →
White-Collar Crimes →

Top-Rated San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney

As one of San Diego’s most premier law firms, The Law Offices of John D. Kirby is qualified and experienced with handling all aspects of a client’s federal criminal defense. From the moment that you believe you’re a part of an investigation or have been charged with a crime, you must hire expert and competent legal counsel to represent you. We have the necessary experience, skills and resources to get you the best possible results
for your particular case, and we are always ready to fight for your rights and protect your freedoms We are locally respected and have a proven track record of success. John Kirby served as a federal prosecutor for 10 years before starting this professional law firm. Being the former federal criminal prosecutor means we know who our opponents are, and we understand their tactics.

The government agents that conduct investigations such as the FBI, ATF and DEA have trained individuals that build federal cases with ease. They have nothing but time, money, resources and manpower to investigate a case for years down to the last detail. This makes it important to hire an attorney that has the experience to stand up to them and know how to manage strategies for winning that will work in your best advantage
in your case. That’s exactly what we can do for you.

Federal Crimes

A federal crime is known as any violation of statute or criminal laws that have been developed by Congress in the United States. It’s possible for an offense to violate both state and federal law at the same time. The decision to prosecute an offense as a federal crime is at the discretion of the Department of Justice.

Federal crimes are divided into many different categories:

  • Sex Crimes: These crimes involve the mistreatment of children and can include: sex trafficking, aggravated sexual abuse, child pornography or sexual abuse of a minor.
  • Federal White Collar Crimes: Common federal white collar crimes include: insider trading, tax evasion, securities fraud, computer/Internet fraud and credit card fraud, to name a few.
  • Federal Drug Crimes: Many drug offenses are prosecuted and investigated as federal crimes. Common drug crimes include drug exportation, importation and trafficking.
  • Federal Weapons Crimes: The federal government has cracked down on enforcing firearm and weapon statutes throughout the nation. Some common federal firearms/weapon offenses include: Possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a prohibited firearm and commercial robbery.

Difference Between Federal Crimes and State Crimes

The type of law that was violated will be the determinant of whether the crime is a federal or state offense. A federal crime occurs when someone violated a federal law/statute that was created by Congress while a state crime occurs when someone violates a state law alone. Sometimes violation of both laws can occur.

Federal crimes are handled within a federal court. The State of California has four district courts: one for Central, Eastern, Northern and Southern districts. Ultimately, not all attorneys are authorized to handle these types of cases before a federal court. However, John D Kirby was a federal prosecutor before opening this firm, so he is well versed in the process and representing individuals successfully.

Federal crimes carry higher penalties than state ones usually. Due to these severe penalties, it’s important to hire an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Investigation Of Federal Crimes

There are many federal agencies that investigate these federal crimes:

The FBI is responsible for investigating and enforcing all U.S. Criminal laws. The Drug Enforcement Agency must enforce all controlled substance laws and regulations. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are responsible for investigating illegal use and trafficking of firearms and any illegal use or storage of explosions.

The investigative process with federal crimes is greatly different than state crimes. Federal investigations are conducted by skilled agencies that gather information over time in order to bring forth charges. They have more resources and funding to investigate crimes, which leads to bigger arrests. Federal criminal investigations are done when they receive credible information about criminal activity and/or a sting operation is done to catch those committing these offenses. This makes it important to hire an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer to represent you during these serious times.

Call to Schedule a Free Consultation With a Federal Criminal Charges Lawyer Today

If you’ve been charged with a federal crime, call to schedule a free consultation with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney today. Our legal team at The Law Offices of John D. Kirby has over forty years of combined legal experience and can build the best possible defense for your federal criminal case. We serve San Diego, La Jolla, Coronado, Carlsbad, La Mesa, Del Mar, San Marcos, Solana Beach and surrounding San Diego County communities. Call 619-557-0100 to get started!


est. 2007


Criminal Appeals

Common Grounds for a Criminal Appeal in California under Penal Code 1237

National & International Appels

Asset Forfeiture & Federal Seizures

21 U.S. Code § 853 – Criminal forfeitures

18 U.S. Code § 981 – Civil forfeiture.

Bribery, Extortion, and Conspiracy

18 U.S. Code § 201 – Bribery of public officials and witnesses

18 U.S. Code § 371 – Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud United States

18 U.S. Code § 875 – Interstate communications

Drug and Prescription Drug Charges

21 U.S.C. § 812 : US Code – Section 812: Schedules of controlled substances

Possession with intent to sell a controlled substance – California Health and Safety Code 11351 HS


18 U.S. Code Chapter 31 – Embezzlement and Theft

18 U.S. Code § 641 – Public money, property or records

Extradition Issues

18 U.S. Code § 3182 – Fugitives from State or Territory to State, District, or Territory

Federal Criminal Law

U.S. Code: Title 18 – Crimes and Criminal Procedure

Insider Trading

15 U.S.C., Chapter 2A – Securities Act of 1933

15 U.S.C., Chapter 2B – Securities Exchanges

15 U.S.C., Chapter 2B-1 – Securities Investor Protection Act Title

17 C.F.R., Chapt. II – Securities and Exchange Commission

Insurance Fraud

False claims in a Medicaid or Medicare 18U.S.C. section 287

False statements 18U.S.C. section 1001

Penal Code 550(a) PC prohibits most forms of health care and medical billing fraud in California

Litigation Matters

Negotiations, Discovery, Motions, Trial, and Appeal

Mortgage Fraud

18 U.S. Code § 1011 – Federal land bank mortgage transactions

Real Estate Fraud

18 U.S. Code § 1011 – Federal land bank mortgage transactions

Bank Fraud

18 U.S. Code § 1344 – Bank fraud.

SEC Investigations

Securities Act of 1933

Securities Exchange Act of 1934

Tax Fraud

26 U.S. Code § 7201 – Attempt to evade or defeat tax

White-Collar Crime

Securities and Exchange Commission Matters

U.S. Department of Justice Investigations

Larceny, Espionage, Forgery, money laundering, antitrust violations, etc.


  • Thank you Mr Kirby
      If you are looking for a lawyer that you can trust your life…Mr. John is the answer. Great Lawyer.  
    Armando Terrazas
  • Thank you Mr Kirby
      I really recommend he is one of the best in San Diego. He helped me so much with my case and kept me updated throughout the process.  
    Mariela Cortes
  • Thank you Mr Kirby
      Attorney Kirby assisted in client referral of divorce attorney. This referral turned out to be the perfect client match. Even though I had not used his services directly, his professional referral shows to me the level of care and follow thru he would have for his own clients.  
  • Thank you Mr Kirby

    John Kirby had a no cost consultation and from the get go I was pleased with his history as a Federal prosecutor for 15 years and then switching over to criminal defense let me know that he knew how the federal system worked and what to do for my case. He was always quick to make sure I understood everything that was happening as I have never been through a court system before. He made sure that I got the possible outcome and I did. If you need a criminal defense attorney John Kirby and his staff are the best people to go too. He was never to busy for a call or to respond to a question. 5 stars all the way around and would highly recommend his practice.

    Nicholas Lebeouf
  • Thank you Mr Kirby

    John Kirby is a really good lawyer because if you have a question or any problem he and his staff going to help you so quickly. So in my opinion John Kirby is the best lawyer and he has a good service that it’s all you need to contact him.

  • Thank you Mr Kirby

    I would like to recommend the law office of John D. Kirby. He and his staff are very professional and compassionate with their clients and their families you do not feel like a number or statistic.

    Sandra Jenney
  • Thank you Mr Kirby

    Mr. John Kirby was very professional and took great care of us. He helped us with my husband's case, and it gave us very good results. He gave us moral and professional support when we needed it most. We know that we can trust Attorney John Kirby for any legal matter.

    Rosario Diaz
  • Thank you Mr Kirby
      I was referred to Mr. Kirby by a long time mentor and colleague as the best Federal Criminal Defense Attorney in San Diego. Mr. Kirby provided me with a free consultation after I was informed I was a target in a Federal Investigation. After speaking to Mr. Kirby at length about his background as a Federal Prosecutor and every possible outcome of the situation I hired him immediately. He communicated with the Federal Investigators directly. After a few months of Mr. Kirby representation I was informed I was no longer a target and no further investigation occurred. Mr. Kirby provided the best representation I could ever imagined with the perfect result.  
    Eddy N
  • Thank you Mr Kirby

    My family hired Mr. Kirby in 2017 to review my father's case. He did an exceptional job both in court and with us as his clients. Mr. Kirby always made us feel welcomed in his office. He quickly and accurately responded to us with any concerns we may have had. His confidence and knowledge led us to hire him as an attorney. I greatly recommend his services and trust him in any legal matter.

    Edwin Nuñez
  • Thank you Mr Kirby

    Been super impressed with John D. Kirby and his legal staff. John has a strong legal background and expertise, and you can feel confident hiring his law firm to defend you. I really appreciate what John has done for me.

    Jess D. (Liberty Trade Co.)
  • Thank you Mr Kirby
      Waking up to police at the door with a search warrant is not how I wanted to start my day. After the search of my house I knew I had to find a good attorney. I was scared. I retained John Kirby. He made me feel instantly comfortable. With Johns counsel and advice I never had to spend a day in jail, all charges were dropped, and most importantly I get to be free to watch my daughter grow up. Thank you John!!  
  • Thank you Mr Kirby

    My family and I are so grateful for Mr. Kirby and his wonderful legal assistants. If you are a Latino or Spanish speaker he has great Latino legal assistants that will help you with any question. They make it very comfortable for clients that are Spanish speakers or clients that have family members that only speak Spanish, top class. Latino families will feel very comfortable with him. They are professionals and make you feel a warm friendly environment regarding questions and follow-up with all your legal procedures. Mr. Kirby is an amazing lawyer, he anticipates every necessary legal step to be done, he gathers the best experts to assist your case, he understands strongly the US federal legal system, and he knows very well how the federal judges and federal prosecutors think and how they will probably act. Make sure you are honest with him and give him all the evidence you can so he can use it to help you with your case. You are in good hands, he handled my federal case and won.

    Luis Caldino
  • Exceptional & Respected

    I never expected to find myself under criminal investigation, but the moment the Federal Government/Securities and Exchange Commission charged me with conspiracy + insider trading, I began my search for the best attorney in Southern California. A friend of mine out in Washington D.C. directed me to John and it was the most important recommendation of my life. John is a no-nonsense innovative strategist. That's my perfect description. Not only is he highly respected amongst judges, but he manoeuvred the system with command and expertise of a former prosecutor, getting me down from a 10-year minimum to a 1-year probationary period. Needless to say he saved my life, and spared my family a lot of grief. Still can't believe it. If you're in a real bind and need someone who won't compromise, you're looking for John.
    Scott B.
  • Thank you Mr Kirby

    We hired John Kirby in 2012. His services were excellent and always stayed in touch with the family, very accessible or otherwise would have his assistant Adriana reach us. Always made us feel like family. We trust John Kirby and recommend his service to anyone who finds themselves in desperate need of legal assistance.

    This review is from a person who hired this attorney. Hired attorney Adriana Buelna for John D. Kirby.

  • Marcel Stewart’s endorsement of John David Kirby

    Relationship: Worked together on matter

    John is a very knowledgeable and experienced federal criminal defense attorney. Because he was a federal prosecutor, he’s able to view cases from all sides, which helps him get favorable results for his clients.

    L. Marcel Stewart, Criminal Defense Attorney in San Diego, CA
  • Gracias John Kirby

    Agradecida con John y su equipo que siempre estuvieron pendiente de mis necesidades y mi seguridad. excelente en comunicación conmigo y atención adecuada,acertiva,humana y fraternal, en el momento oportuno. Solo agradecer por cumplir en los tiempos acordados y avanzar oportunamente en mi caso. En verdad se ocupan de personalmente de cada caso, excelente ser humano.

    Estela Roldan
  • Excellent Ace in Your Corner

    My only mistake was following another lawyer's advice before I hired John to represent me. By that time I had already given the prosecution everything they needed. Despite this, John negotiated for me to serve no jail time and he got me released from probation the day I was eligible. John is still my attorney and I go to him first before I start any of my business endeavors.


    I retained Mr. Kirby a couple of years ago. He was retained to represent me in a post conviction matter and to help with my release from federal prison to home confinement. Due to his efforts, I was released from federal prison about 5-1/2 years earlier than projected. Can't thank him enough for his help in getting this done!

  • Excellent Service!

    My attorney John Kirby along with his friendly, knowledgeable staff saved my life!! I recently suffered from an extreme drug addiction & was charged with a federal crime while under the influence. Mr Kirby not only fought to get my charges dismissed but also to get me the help I desperately needed. I now have 16 months clean, am supervisor at my job, recently bought a car & have a new apartment. But most importantly my family has me back! A granddaughter, daughter, sister & mother! I couldn't have asked for more! Thanks John!
    Candice S.
  • Federal Criminal Case Success

    I was referred to Mr. Kirby by a long time mentor and colleague as the best Federal Criminal Defense Attorney in San Diego. Mr. Kirby provided me with a free consultation after I was informed I was a target in a Federal Investigation. After speaking to Mr. Kirby at length about his background as a Federal Prosecutor and every possible outcome of the situation I hired him immediately. He communicated with the Federal Investigators directly. After a few months of Mr. Kirby representation I was informed I was no longer a target and no further investigation occurred. Mr. Kirby provided the best representation I could ever imagined with the perfect result.
    David F.


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    If you’ve been arrested for or charged with a federal offense, Law Offices of John D. Kirby, A.P.C. can help you by:

    • Thoroughly investigating your case
    • Determining whether any evidence against you may have been obtained illegally
    • Interviewing all parties involved
    • Negotiating reduced charges or penalties with the prosecution, if possible

    Having a lawyer who can handle federal criminal defense can make the difference between successfully fighting your charges and spending years in jail. Call today to speak to Law Offices of John D. Kirby, A.P.C. about your case.

    See more tips on finding the right attorney at California Attorney Search .com