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Joseph King


Joe’s criminal defense portfolio includes defending some of the area’s most significant murder cases as well as defending federal white-collar matters, federal drug conspiracy and firearm offenses, federal terrorism allegations, state criminal matters, and DUI/DWI charges. His legal work has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America, Virginia, and Washington, DC Super Lawyers and top regional publications The Washingtonian and Northern Virginia Magazine. In 2021 and 2022, Virginia Super Lawyers rated Joe as one of the top 100 lawyers in Virginia.

Prior to establishing his private legal practice in 2008, Joe worked as an attorney at the Alexandria Office of the Public Defender, which has a number of alumni recognized among the Washington DC metro area’s top trial lawyers. During his time as a public defender, Joe diligently worked on behalf of his indigent clients and attended the respected Trial Practice Institute at the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Georgia. Joe received his Juris doctorate cum laude from The University of Michigan Law School in 2003. He earned a master's degree in History from George Mason University in 1996 and a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Mary Washington College in 1992. Joe is a fluent Spanish speaker.


  • Virginia Super Lawyers, Top 100 Lawyers in Virginia – 2021 - 2022.
  • Virginia Super Lawyers – 2017 – present.
  • Best Lawyers in America, Virginia – 2020 – present.
  • Washingtonian Magazine’s best criminal defense lawyers – 2011 – present.
  • Northern Virginia Magazine’s best criminal defense lawyers – 2014 – present

Bar Admissions

  • Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Trial Experience

Joe is a veteran trial attorney that has served as counsel or co-counsel in over two hundred trials. He has defended at trial allegations of murder, rape, federal drug conspiracy and gun charges, federal sex trafficking charges, armed robbery, embezzlement, felony child neglect, felony assault as well as numerous misdemeanor matters such as DUI, assaults, larceny, identity fraud, and other criminal allegations. (DISCLAIMER: CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE AND PAST CASE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE) He and/or his trial teams have secured acquittals, dismissals, or reduced charges in dozens of litigated criminal matters, including charges of murder, federal drug conspiracy charges, armed robbery, felony child neglect, felony assault, felony sex charges, and many DUI and other misdemeanor matters.

Federal White Collar and Criminal Defense

Joe has significant experience representing clients in federal white-collar investigations and allegations of honest services fraud, illegal kickbacks/bribery, mortgage fraud, health care fraud, wire fraud, and other white-collar matters.

Joe also defends other serious federal felonies, including allegations of murder-in-aid of racketeering, domestic and international conspiracies to distribute controlled substances, federal firearm offenses (including allegations of making a false statement to federal firearm licensees), and other criminal matters.

Criminal Defense Instruction

Joe regularly serves as faculty for continuing legal education (CLE) courses for other lawyers.  In 2021, along with KCPM partner Sean Sherlock, he presented a CLE covering new challenges to overbroad search warrants of cell phones and social media evidence on behalf of the Office of the Federal Defender for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Alexandria Bar Association (Probable Cause and the Particularity Requirement: Fourth Amendment Challenges to Overbroad Search Warrants, Cell Phone Evidence, and Social Media Evidence). In 2019, on behalf of Virginia CLE, Joe King, and Jeff Zimmerman taught Essentials of Federal Sentencing with Lessons from the Paul Manafort Case.  Also on behalf of Virginia CLE, in 2018, Joe King, Emily Beckman, and firearm expert Jay Mason taught Firearm Forensics and Defense Issues in Criminal Cases. In 2017, Emily Beckman and Joe King, on behalf of, taught Introduction to Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions in Virginia.

Other speaking engagements include numerous presentations on topics related to DUI and traffic defense, criminal defense, federal sentencing, as well as appellate and post-conviction advocacy, during which CLE courses were sponsored by the Alexandria Bar Association.  He has also presented on the topic of DUI defense during a CLE sponsored by the Arlington Bar Association.

DUI and Traffic Defense

Joe has represented hundreds of clients charged with DUI/DWI as well as other traffic offenses, including allegations of DUI-related manslaughter, felony DUI, felony eluding, felony hit & run, and reckless driving. Even though Joe and his firm engaged in serious felony defense, he has maintained a focus on defending DUI cases, which may have many technical and constitutionally based defenses. He has authored numerous motions to suppress and limit evidence as well as motions to dismiss.  Relatedly, he is the co-author of two chapters of a leading Virginia treatise on DUI and traffic defense. See chapters on Substantive Law and Technical Defenses in Intoxication Cases in Defense of Serious Traffic Cases in Virginia (Virginia CLE Publications, 7th ed. 2020).

Appellate and Post-Conviction Experience

An experienced appellate lawyer, Joe has appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the Virginia Supreme Court, and the Virginia Court of Appeals. He has also litigated habeas petitions in Virginia circuit courts and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. In preparing post-conviction and appellate briefs, he believes it is important to thoroughly review the trial court record, conduct detailed research on relevant authority, and write organized and clear pleadings in order to be persuasive.

Recent post-conviction matters include:

  • In October 2022, Sean Sherlock and Joe King won a motion to set aside a jury verdict in a felony sexual assault matter in a Northern Virginia Circuit Court. The court set aside the verdict and ordered a new trial due to a fundamental irregularity that occurred during deliberations. During deliberations, a juror was disqualified and replaced with an alternate juror. The alternate juror had been released after the guilt phase. While this was not irregular in itself, the juror, prior to being released, had not received the court’s complete instructions, had not been admonished by the court to not discuss the case, the juror was not re-sworn prior to re-joining the jury, and jury deliberations were not restarted anew. In the re-trial, the client was found not guilty.
  • In August 2022, Joe obtained the dismissal of a 1991 grand larceny charge in a Virginia district court. The more than 30 year old matter had been closed and the underlying warrant purged as long as two decades ago, leaving the case without any final disposition and impacting the client’s criminal record.
  • In August 2022, Joe succeeded in vacating and dismissing a 2005 conviction on behalf of the client due to a Virginia court’s lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The client, a juvenile at the of the allegations, had been incorrectly charged and convicted as an adult.
  • On January 4, 2021, Joseph King and Lauren LeBourgeois filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court to the Virginia Supreme Court (Castillo v. Virginia, No. 20-921) seeking a review of Braulio M. Castillo v. Commonwealth, Record No. 191028 (Va, S.Ct. 2020). The issues presented are 1) Does the Confrontation Clause allow a non-victim child witness to testify against his father via two-way closed circuit television when the witness cannot see his father and does not know that his father is on trial for murder?; and 2) Given that Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), removed the underpinnings of Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836 (1990), should Craig be overruled? The cert petition can be found here. The petition was highlighted by SCOTUS Blog as a petition to watch but ultimately not accepted by the court.
  • On June 24, 2020, Joe won a contested motion for compassionate release for an indigent client due to the client’s increased health risk to COVID-19 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The client, who was elderly with underlying health conditions, was serving a 30-month sentence for a non-violent drug offense after being sentenced in February 2020. The endeavor to release the client and reunite him with his family was a team effort involving the firm’s office manager, a private investigator, friends and family of the client, U.S. Probation, and other attorneys. The firm handled the matter pro bono.
  • On January 7, 2020, Joe won a case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which vacated and remanded the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia’s decision dismissing a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion (habeas motion) in the matter of United States v. Dixon (4th Cir. No. 16-7752)(Jan. 7, 2020). In his 2255 motion, Dixon had challenged his firearm conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (for possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence where the underlying offense was a conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery) as void based on Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). That is, Dixon contended that his firearm conviction was void because Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), retroactively invalidated § 924(c)(3)(B), that statute’s “residual clause,” as unconstitutionally vague. The Fourth Circuit held: “In light of United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319, 2336 (2019) (holding that residual clause of § 924(c) is unconstitutionally vague); United States v. Simms, 914 F.3d 229, 232-34 (4th Cir. 2019) (holding that conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery is not a crime of violence under the force clause of § 924(c)), we grant a certificate of appealability and vacate the district court’s order.”
  • On March 28, 2019, in the Virginia Supreme Court, Joe won a reversal of murder and firearm convictions along with a 43-year prison sentence finding that police detectives had violated the Appellant’s Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Joe argued the matter before the Virginia Supreme Court and also served as trial counsel for the client. The Virginia Supreme Court’s order can be found here.

Other notable cases can be found on the firm’s post-conviction page.


    • Joseph King and Sean Sherlock, chapter 7  Technical Defenses in Intoxication Cases in Defense of Serious Traffic Cases in Virginia (Virginia CLE Publications, 8th ed. 2022).
    • Joseph King, Developing an Appeals Strategy for Criminal Convictions and Assessing Effective Assistance of Counsel, in Navigating Post-Conviction Appeals, pp. 61-99 (Aspatore Books, 2015).
    • Joseph King, Chris Leibig & Kristen Clardy, Melendez-Diaz and Briscoe: Return of Constitutional Guarantees Worth the Cost to the System, New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement, Vol. 36, No. 2 (Spring 2010).
    • Joseph King, Melendez-Diaz v. MA and Briscoe v. VA, Alexandria Bar Association Oyez, Vol. 28, No. 3 (June 2010).


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