Christopher Van Wagner

Top rated criminal defense attorney in Madison, Wisconsin

Christopher T. Van Wagner S.C.
Christopher Van Wagner
Christopher T. Van Wagner S.C.

Practice Areas: Criminal defense, DUI-DWI, White collar crimes; view more

Licensed in Wisconsin since: 1994

Education: Cornell University Law School

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2006, 2008 - 2009, 2014 - 2022

Christopher T. Van Wagner S.C.

110 East Main Street
Suite 705
Madison, WI 53703 Visit website

Details

Attorney Chris Van Wagner specializes exclusively in defending people accused of serious crimes & drunk driving. Chris has been named "Warrior of the Year" in Dane County and four times awarded the Martin Hanson Advocate’s Prize for winning acquittals in homicide cases. Attorney Chris Van Wagner has been an expert criminal law guest commentator on national and local TV shows, including Nancy Grace, MSNBC's Dan Abrams & The Today Show. He regularly appears on Madison talk radio to hold forth on crime, guns and self-defense, and serves Channel 3000 as a regular criminal law commentator. 

Chris Van Wagner has 40-plus years of experience, including stints as a New Jersey State Prosecutor and Wisconsin Federal Prosecutor, and this unique background gives him a clear edge when defending clients: Chris knows how prosecutors think. Chris represents working class clients, Fortune 500 executives, & even attorneys. He is known as a lawyer's lawyer, and not once but twice got lawyers cleared of homicide charges. So lawyers know: call Chris Van Wagner. Chris defends all crimes, from DUI to sexual assault, from homicide to domestics, in state & federal court. He specializes in defending sexual assault charges, and all kinds of false criminal accusations. And, unlike many lawyers, Chris does not fear trial, but relishes & demands a jury trial, when a prosecutor will not back down. Chris has handled over 100 serious felony jury trials all the way to verdict in his stellar career. That is why prosecutors know this about Chris: if Van Wagner demands a trial, he means it.

In addition to his aggressive defense of crimes, Chris Van Wagner teaches at defense lawyer seminars, where he emphasizes the critical importance of creative strategies. His offices are in Madison, Wisconsin, but he covers the entire state.  Chris loves Peggy, coffee, tomato pie, the Yankees and all things Badger Red. Chris is an honest, aggressive lawyer. He is practices law and Catholicism with equal vigor but different reqards. 

Practice areas

Criminal defense, Criminal defense: DUI/DWI, Criminal defense: white collar

Focus areas

Arrest & arraignment, Assault & battery, Criminal fraud, Criminal law, Drug & alcohol violations, Expungement, False accusations, Felony, Misdemeanor, Murder, Sex offenses, Tax evasion, Theft, Criminal domestic violence, DUI/DWI, White collar crime, Criminal law - federal

  • 60% Criminal defense
  • 20% Criminal defense: DUI/DWI
  • 20% Criminal defense: white collar

First Admitted: 1981, New Jersey

Professional Webpage: https://www.vanwagnerlaw.com/about/

Educational Background:
  • Cornell Law School - Law Review Editor
  • St. Lawrence University, B.A. in English and Literature, 1978
Honors/Awards:
  • Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers, AV Peer-rating, Martindale Hubbell, 2001 - 2003
  • Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyer, Madison Magazine, 2009
  • Martin Hanson Advocate Prize, 2001
  • "Warrior of the Year," Dane County Criminal Defense Bar, 1999
  • "'AV-Rated' Eminent Lawyers Peer Review", Martindale Hubbell
  • Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyer, 2007
  • Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers, AV Peer-rating, Martindale Hubbell, 2003 - 2005
  • "AV" Eminent Attorney Peer Review Rating, Martindale Hubbell
  • Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers, AV Peer-rating, Martindale Hubbell, 1997 - 2000
  • Wisconsin's Best Drunk Driving Defense Lawyers, OWI-DUI.com, 2009, 2010
  • Martin Hanson Advocate Prize, 2002
  • Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyer, 2001
Representative Clients:
  • State of Wisconsin v. Client, Sexual Assault of Minor Child
  • State of Wisconsin v. Client - Murder Charges Dismissed
  • State of Wisconsin v. Covarrubias - Acquitted, Murder
  • State of Wisconsin v. Ramker, Acquitted, Sexual Assault of Minor Child
  • State of Wisconsin v. Pintz - Acquitted, Sexual Assault, Repeated Acts
  • State of Wisconsin v. Meng - Acquitted, Murder
  • State of Wisconsin v. Sutter - Acquitted, Sexual Assault of Minor Child
  • State of Wisconsin v. Staton - Acquitted, Murder
Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • Teaching Faculty, Wisconsin Public Defender Trial Skills Academy (Lake Delavan, Wisconsin)
  • Teaching Faculty, NITA Trial Skills Programs (Northwestern Law School, Chicago)
  • Speaker, Wisconsin Criminal Defense and Other Bar Seminars
  • University of Wisconsin Law School, Adjunct Faculty Member, "Lawyering Skills Course - Criminal Proceedings" (Prof. Ralph Cagle), Adjunct Faculty, 2013
  • Cornell Law School Mock Trial Judge, Prof Glen Galbreath Trial Skills Seminar, Judge, Mock Trial, 2013
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Member, State Bar Fee Arbitritation Panel., 2017
  • U.S. District Court District of New Jersey
  • President, Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association., 2019
  • Member, Wisconsin State Bar Association, 1994
  • Member, Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois
  • Member, Dane County Bar Association
  • Member, Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Wisconsin Admission, 1994
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit
  • Member, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Frequent State and local Criminal Defense CLE Seminar speaker.
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin
Verdicts/Settlements:
  • Grant County jury trial, businessman falsely accused by ex-wife, who was seeking money, money, money. Van Wagern destroyed her story and with it, her credibility, in a lengthy, searing cross-examination. , 2018
  • Not Guilty of Homicide! Client acquitted of Reckless Homicide-Child Abuse in a two-week jury trial, with numerous forensic medical experts.  , 2022
  • State Bar Fee Arbitrator, resolving nettlesome fee disputes between criminal lawyers and their clients. , 2017
  • State v. John Doe #1-18, Child Pornography case DISMISSED before trial, Dane County., 2017
  • Not guilty, jury trial, Felony Forcible Sexual Assault , 1995
  • State v. T.P. - Child Pornography charges dismissed after suppression of all client statements (Rock County), 2014
  • Dismissed (at preliminary hearing), Felony Sexual Assault of Minor by School Staff (Marquette Co.), 2010
  • Not Guilty, jury trial, Sexual Assault of Minors, Multiple Counts, 1999
  • State v. John Doe #3-18, NOT GUILTY at jury trial, Felony Domestic Violence, Strangulation case, South Central Wisconsin area County., 2017
  • Dismissed (at preliminary hearing), Drunk Driving Homicide, 2006
  • Dismissed (on the eve of trial), Multiple Felony Counts Sexual Assault of Child, 2010
  • Dismissed (on the eve of trial), Multiple Felony Counts Sexual Assault of Child (Sauk Co.), 2013
  • Not guilty, jury trial, First Degree Sexual Assault of Child, Repeated Acts, 2007
  • State v. J.M., NOT GUILTY at jury trial, Repeated Acts of Sexual Assault of a Child, Dane County., 2017
  • Not guilty, jury trial, Vehicular Homicide, Hit & Run Homicide (Marquette Co.), 2003
  • State v. L.W., Repeated Acts of Sexual Assault of Child, DISMISSED on the eve of trial, Walworth County., 2014
  • Not Guilty, jury trial, First Degree Attempted Homicide (Juneau Co.), 2003
  • State v. E.C., NOT GUILTY at jury trial, Homicide by Negligent Operation of Motor Vehicle, Grant County., 2017
  • Not Guilty, jury trial, Felony Battery, 2002
  • Not guilty, jury trial, Multiple Counts, 1st Degree Sexual Assault of Minor, 2009
  • Dismissed (on the eve of trial), Multiple Felony Counts Sexual Assault of Child (2 accusers) (Dane Co.), 2013
  • Not guilty, jury trial, Second Degree Sexual Assault, 2008
  • Not Guilty OWI (2nd) (Dane Co.), 2009
  • Not guilty, jury trial, First Degree Intentional Homicide, 1998
  • State v. S.S., Drug Manufacture/Grow charges dismissed after all evidence suppressed on defense motion (Rock County), 2014
  • Dismissed (on eve of trial), Felony Forcible Sexual Assault (Marathon County), 2010
  • State v. John Doe #2-18, Child Pornography, Case dismissed after prelim, South Central Wisconsin area County, 2017
  • Dismissed (at preliminary hearing), First Degree Reckless Homicide, 2000
  • Not Guilty, jury trial, First Degree Attempted Homicide, 1999
  • Dismissed (at preliminary hearing), First Degree Intentional Homicide, 2007
  • Dismissed (on the eve of trial), Felony Sexual Assault of Minor (Repeated Acts), 2010
  • Dismissed before trial, Forcible Sexual Assault (Monroe County), 2012
Industry Groups:
  • Dane Co. Criminal Defense Lawyers Assn
  • National Association Of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Wisconsin Assoc. Of Criminal Defense Lawyers

These comments were made by fellow attorneys during the annual nomination process.

“CVW is a bulldog for his clients. He works incredibly hard to make sure that his clients are in good hands that he is doing everything possible to defend them. He has a reputation in Madison and the surrounding area for his advocacy and competency in criminal defense cases.”

“Chris is an excellent advocate for people facing challenging criminal accusations.”

“The best criminal defense attorney in Wisconsin.”

“Chris is known as one of Wisconsin's top trial attorneys. I consider myself lucky to have worked with him for the past eight years. If I were ever charged with a criminal defense, I'd call him first.”

“Christopher Van Wagner is an excellent attorney, and well known throughout the state of Wisconsin as a leading trial attorney. It's a privilege for me to work with him. If I were ever accused of a crime, I'd call him first.”

“He is well known as one of the best criminal defense lawyers in the state and is often called upon to teach young lawyers at conferences.”

“Top Shelf criminal law lawyer.”

Office location for Christopher Van Wagner

110 East Main Street
Suite 705
Madison, WI 53703

Phone: 608-620-6239

Selections

12 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2006, 2008 - 2009, 2014 - 2022

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