Marc J. Zilversmit, Esq.
523 Octavia St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone 415.431.3472
Fax 415.552.2703

In the News San Francisco Criminal Trial Attorney San Francisco Criminal Appeals Attorney About Marc Zilversmit Contact Us


San Francisco Criminal Defense Attorney Marc J. Zilversmit is one of the Bay Area's most skilled criminal defense attorneys, and one of only a few California attorneys who is a Certified Specialist in both Criminal Law and Appellate Law, by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Zilversmit has over twenty years of experience in criminal defense practice, representing defendants in criminal cases and juvenile delinquency cases in state and federal trial courts, on appeals and writs, and in DMV hearings. Mr. Zilversmit's practice covers all types of criminal cases from simple drug possession and drunk driving cases to complex fraud and homicide cases. Mr. Zilversmit's excellent work as a San Francisco criminal defense attorney has won him recognition as a Northern California Super Lawyer for 2007, 2008, 2009. Mr. Zilversmit's reputation as a fighter who does not give up was recently profiled in the local legal paper.

A graduate of Stanford Law School and Haverford College, Classes of 1987 and 1983, respectively, Mr. Zilversmit served as an editor of the Stanford Law Review and won the Irving Hellman, Jr. Award for the best Note published in the Stanford Law Review. After graduating from Stanford Law School, Mr. Zilversmit served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Alfred T. Goodwin of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

After finishing his clerkship, Mr. Zilversmit worked for the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office for 5 years. During his tenure at the Public Defender's Office, Mr. Zilversmit tried dozens of misdemeanor jury trials, hundreds of juvenile trials, and numerous felony trials. Some of the highlights of Mr. Zilversmit's term at the Public Defender's Office include winning acquittals in two of three juvenile murder trials; successfully using a religious freedom defense in a trial defending a lay preacher who was accused of practicing family counseling without a license; and obtaining an acquittal for a community activist charged with rioting when he sought to intercede on behalf of a gang member who was being mistreated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Since leaving the Los Angeles Public Defender's Office and moving to the Bay Area in 1993, Mr. Zilversmit became affiliated with Riordan and Rosenthal, an Association of Sole Proprietorships, and more recently moved on to form his own practice. Since that time, Mr. Zilversmit has been involved in a number of high profile cases on both the trial and appellate level.

As trial counsel, Mr. Zilversmit obtained an acquittal for a defendant facing 25 years to life for passing bad checks, in one of San Francisco's first "3 Strikes" trials. Mr. Zilversmit and Dennis Riordan were successful in the murder trial of an East Palo Alto youth, where the prosecutor brought murder charges based upon a theory of "natural and probable consequences" for a defendant's commission of a misdemeanor. Mr. Zilversmit and Harold Rosenthal successfully defended an airplane parts company and its president in a federal indictment charging fraud in the procurement of airplane parts - the only successful defense out of the dozens of companies so charged. In a domestic violence trial, Mr. Zilversmit successfully brought a writ before the California Supreme Court ordering dismissal of all charges on double jeopardy grounds. Mr. Zilversmit and Mr. Rosenthal recently represented one of the defendants in the retrial of the "Billionaire Boys Club" murder trial in San Mateo County and negotiated a plea bargain for credit for time served. More recently, Mr. Zilversmit settled a homicide case that received coverage for its "Romeo and Juliet" theme. Mr. Zilversmit also secured an acquittal for a youth charged with homicide for the killing of a maintenance worker in the Sunnydale projects of San Francisco, and obtained a mid-trial dismissal of attempted murder charges against another Sunnydale youth in 2004. Mr. Zilversmit recently represented a defendant in a multi-defendant federal RICO indictment of alleged members of the Nuestra Familia prison gang; Mr. Zilversmit's motion to dismiss based upon government misconduct has received substantial coverage in the press, including Maxim Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the East Bay Express, and ABC News.

As an appellate attorney, Mr. Zilversmit has written briefs and argued cases in state and federal appellate courts including the United States Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court. In particular, Mr. Zilversmit wrote the brief and appeared with Mr. Riordan before the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Shabani, 513 U.S. 10 (1994), which defined the reach of federal drug conspiracy laws. Mr. Zilversmit won a writ of mandamus in the California Supreme Court which ordered the San Francisco Superior Court to dismiss his client's misdemeanor case due to a double jeopardy violation. Mr. Zilversmit worked with Mr. Riordan to overturn the conviction in the infamous George Franklin "repressed memory murder case," and succeeded in garnering dismissal of the charges after the case was sent back for retrial. Mr. Zilversmit successfully argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and obtained a reversal of federal drug conspiracy charges. Further, Mr. Zilversmit along with Mr. Riordan obtained a hearing into allegations of juror misconduct in the Dorothea Puente case, in which Mrs. Puente was convicted of several counts of murder in connection with seven bodies found buried behind her Sacramento boarding house; the matter is currently before the federal district court pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus. Additionally, Mr. Zilversmit worked with Mr. Riordan to challenge the convictions of the owners and executives of Center Art Galleries - Hawaii, who were charged in the "Salvador Dali art fraud scandal." In 2002, Mr. Zilversmit brought a successful writ in the Court of Appeal on behalf of a Minor who the state was seeking to charge as an adult. Marcus W. v. Superior Court (2002) 98 Cal. App.4th 36 established the right of juveniles to challenge the voluntariness of any statement to police before the state can use it in a hearing to transfer the Minor to adult court. It was the first published opinion reversing a transfer decision in San Francisco in almost twenty years. Mr. Zilversmit also successfully appealed a writ of habeas corpus to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, obtaining a reversal of a San Francisco murder conviction. Also, Mr. Zilversmit won a reversal of a domestic violence conviction in the San Mateo Superior Court Appellate Division, on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. Mr. Zilversmit recently won another appeal of a writ of habeas corpus in the Ninth Circuit, and obtained a reversal of a large scale drug trafficking conviction. Recently, Mr. Zilversmit won a new trial motion vacating a murder conviction in the Golden Gate Bridge murder case. The Court of Appeal recently affirmed the grant of the new trial motion in the Golden Gate Bridge case. In United States v. Sandoval Mendoza, 472 F.3d 645 (9th Cir. 2006), Mr. Zilversmit also won a Ninth Circuit appeal of a large scale methamphetamine conspiracy conviction on the grounds that the court denied him the right to present evidence that he was susceptible to entrapment due to his brain tumor.

Mr. Zilversmit's efforts on behalf of his clients have garnered numerous favorable press articles.

Mr. Zilversmit is admitted to the California Bar and the Washington, D.C. Bar and has been admitted to practice in all federal courts in California and Hawaii. Mr. Zilversmit has been a faculty member for the Stanford Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop and has lectured at the Placer County Bar Association and the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Juvenile Delinquency Workshop.


Marc J. Zilversmit, Esq.
523 Octavia St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone 415.431.3472
Fax 415.552.2703

Contact Us