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Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner repeatedly named to Wisconsin Super Lawyers, Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers & continuously "AV-rated" by Martindale (Eminent Attorney) has in just the past ten years won six sexual assault trials and negotiated one down to a disorderly conduct. That is perhaps more sexual assault trials than any Wisconsin attorney has tried to verdict. He has also won numerous high-profile murder cases.
Repeatedly Voted Madison's BestVan Wagner & Wood Criminal Defense Attorneys Will Defend You Regardless of the Criminal Charge

Christopher T. Van Wagner, Wisconsin Criminal Defense LawyerChristopher T.
Van Wagner
attorney at law

Van Wagner & Wood, S.C.
1 North Pinckney Street, Suite 300
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
toll free

Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner, Preeminent Attorney, AV Peer Review Rating, Lexis Nexis Martindale Hubbell

Attorney Christopher Van Wagner Named To Super Lawyers
Seriously Outstanding
only 5% selected each year

AVVO Super Lawyer Highest Rating 10/10

In practice since 1981, criminal defense attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner brings a wide mix of knowledge, background and unique personal experience to each case. These include the lessons learned and instincts developed while growing up one of 11 children born to a middle class Irish Catholic New Jersey couple; the topnotch education and training he received attending an Ivy League law school (Cornell Law School 1981, Law Review Editor) and then clerking for a federal district judge (Honorable Dick Debevoise, D.N.J., 1981-1982); the boardroom manners observed and absorbed working for Fortune 500 clients in his years at a world-renowned Chicago-based corporate law firm (Mayer Brown, on LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois); and, most significantly, the ingrained courtroom sense and solid jury trial skills he honed while trying more than 50 felony jury trials to verdict as a state prosecutor (in Trenton, New Jersey), cases ranging from disorderly conduct to rape and murder.

In 1991, he moved to Wisconsin to become a federal prosecutor (Madison, Wisconsin). In a short time, he tried several federal conspiracy cases to verdict. Chris left the government in 1994, and now devotes his professional time, effort and energy exclusively to defending people accused (or convicted) of serious crimes and drunk driving offenses by both Wisconsin and Federal governments. Chris has tried and won some high-profile trials, including several murder cases.

Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner holds an "AV" Peer Review rating from Martindale-Hubbell. He has been repeatedly honored by Super Lawyers as one of Wisconsin's top criminal defense lawyers (only the top 5% are recognized). The Dane County defense bar honored him as "Warrior of the Year" when Chris won an acquittal on behalf of a particularly difficult client (a previous district attorney) in an attempted murder shooting case. The Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL) has three times awarded Chris the Martin Hanson Advocate's Prize - a statewide honor for his repeated victories in homicide and murder cases. In each of the past several surveys of all Dane County Wisconsin attorneys, Christopher Van Wagner has repeatedly been one of a handful of attorneys to be named to Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Attorney Van Wagner frequently serves as a legal analyst and criminal trial commentator on Court TV with anchor Nancy Grace, who now also hosts the Larry King show, the Dan Abrams Report on MSNBC, The Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, ABC Madison Channel 27, Madison Channel 3000 (C3K), as well as other local and national networks. He teaches at national and regional criminal law seminars, often lecturing on the critical importance of creative defense strategies. He has written for legal publications including the Wisconsin State Journal. He often publishes legal notes and comments about Wisconsin criminal law in his BLOG.

Even though Chris has permanently resettled to Wisconsin, he remains an equally permanent and often rabid New York Yankees fan.

Areas of Practice:

Criminal Defense (State, Federal, Felony, Misdemeanor)


Computer Crimes, Internet Crimes, Pornography, Music Downloads


Disorderly Conduct, Domestic Battery, Abuse & Violence

Domestic Terrorism

Drug Crimes [federal] [state]

Drunk Driving - OWI (DUI, DWI), Felony OWI, Intoxicated Vehicular Homicide

Federal & State Charges, Criminal Trials, Criminal Appeals

Felony Murder, Homicide, Negligent Homicide, Vehicular Homicide

Kidnapping, False Imprisonment

Sex Crimes, Sexual Assault, Sexual Assault Battery, Sexual Predator


Robbery, Burglary, Arson


White Collar Crimes, Fraud, Embezzlement

Litigation Percentage:

100% of law practice devoted to criminal defense and litigation against criminal charges.

Bar Admissions:

State: Wisconsin State Bar, 1994
Federal: U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin
Federal: U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin
Federal: U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit

Previous Bar Admissions:

State: New Jersey State Bar, 1981
State: Illinois State Bar, 1989
Federal: U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois
Federal: U.S. District Court District of New Jersey
Federal: U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit


Cornell Law School, Ithaca, New York, 1981
J. D.

St. Lawrence, 1978 (St. Lawrence University)
B. A.
Major: English and Literature

Classes/Seminars Taught:

Wisconsin Public Defender Trial Skills Academy (Lake Delavan, Wisconsin)
Teaching Faculty

NITA Trial Skills Programs (Northwestern Law School, Chicago)
Teaching Faculty

Wisconsin Criminal Defense and Other Bar Seminars

Representative Cases:

State of Wisconsin v. Ramker, Acquitted, Sexual Assault of Minor Child
State of Wisconsin v. Client, Sexual Assault of Minor Child
State of Wisconsin v. Sutter - Acquitted, Sexual Assault of Minor Child
State of Wisconsin v. Pintz - Acquitted, Sexual Assault, Repeated Acts
State of Wisconsin v. Client - Murder Charges Dismissed
State of Wisconsin v. Staton - Acquitted, Murder
State of Wisconsin v. Meng - Acquitted, Murder
State of Wisconsin v. Covarrubias - Acquitted, Murder

Honors and Awards:

Wisconsin's Best Drunk Driving Defense Lawyers, 2009, 2010
Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyer, 2009
Wisconsin Super Lawyers, 2009
   Drunk Driving Defense, Criminal Defense, White Collar Criminal Defense
Wisconsin Super Lawyers, Criminal Defense, White Collar Crime, DUI 2008
  Successful Criminal & DUI Defense, Attorney Christopher Van Wagner, Criminal, DUI
Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyer, 2007
Super Lawyers, Criminal Defense, DUI, White Collar Crimes, Wisconsin 2006
Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyer, 2005
Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyer, 2003
Martin Hanson Advocate Prize, 2002
Martin Hanson Advocate Prize, 2001
Martin Hanson Advocate Prize, 2001
Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyer, 2001
"Warrior of the Year," Dane County Criminal Defense Bar, 1999
"AV" Eminent Attorney Peer Review Rating, Martindale Hubbell

Professional Associations and Memberships:

Dane County Bar Association

Wisconsin State Bar Association

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer

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