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Attorney Bio


J.D., University of San Diego School of Law

B.A., History, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Former Prosecutor

For years, I was a Deputy District Attorney (DDA) in multiple California counties, so I know well what it's like to prosecute a criminal case, work with law enforcement, negotiate with defense lawyers, and to go to trial as a DA. And unlike most other former prosecutors, I've also spent years in the public defender's shoes gaining vast criminal defense experience. For over a decade in total, I've handled high volumes of challenging cases on both sides of the courtroom—from DUIs to murder—which has grounded me with the expertise necessary to defend you in court.


It's a privilege to be an attorney. My practice enables me to help people through what's often the most difficult times in their lives—a weighty yet profoundly rewarding responsibility. Whether that means negotiating the reduction or dismissal of criminal charges or fighting a case all the way to trial, I take whatever path is needed to help. In all cases, my mission is to advise with compassion, transparency, smart strategy, and pragmatism.

Small Firm Model

Bigger is not always better. In criminal law, many of the best firms are solo or 1-2 lawyer boutique practices. Hiring a larger firm often means your case will be handled by an associate who lacks the trial experience and courtroom credibility that you believe you're paying for.

Cases Are Not Passed Off to Less Experienced Associates

I prepare your case, answer your calls, and attend court myself on anything important. I don't pass off the work. The more cases a lawyer takes, the less time the lawyer can devote to each client. To ensure I provide top tier representation for each client, I limit how many new cases that I accept.

Convenience for Clients

I work out of two offices in the San Francisco Bay Areain Redwood City, San Mateo County (two blocks from the courthouse) and Moraga, a midway point between Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. For addresses and maps, please click HERE.  I also regularly video chat with clientsa fast, convenient way to meet!

My Story

I became a lawyer after working, briefly, in the mortgage industry after college. The rampant deceitful business practices in the industry at the time appalled me, so I left the industry to pursue a legal career—a far more suitable role for me—with the broad hope to help people in need.

In law school, I received the top grades in my Criminal Law, Legal Research & Writing, and Negotiations classes and discovered a passion for the courtroom and trial advocacy. I clerked at the U.S. Attorney's Office, the City Attorney's Office, the D.A.'s Office (twice), as well as a top civil plaintiff's litigation firm. I won First Place three consecutive Mock Trial Tournaments, competed in a  national tournament, and was hooked on the courtroom.

After law school, I started my career as a prosecutor. I spent about four years in two different DA's Offices gaining significant experience in criminal law and working with law enforcement. I then moved to the Bay Area and initially worked for a civil firm handling consumer protection cases but ultimately left to open my own criminal defense law office. I also essentially inherited a public defender caseload right away through court appointed cases in hundreds of criminal cases.  Over the years, I continue to devote a percentage of my time in the defense of indigent clients.

Over the years, I have taken on complicated cases, including murder. I have a great appreciation for the significant role of being a defense attorney. It's a privilege to be an attorney—one that affords me the opportunity to help people through what's often the most difficult times in their lives, which is a profoundly rewarding responsibility. My mission is to assist my clients with compassion, transparency, smart strategy, and pragmatism.

Fees / Costs

Quotes are provided only after consultation, but to provide a general idea, misdemeanors (including DUIs) typically range from $2,500 to $5,000. Felonies start at $7,500. "Strike" cases start at $10,000. If a case goes to jury trial, there is a per-day fee that starts at $750. Some cases need expert witness or other specialized services, which is an additional cost. 


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Ariel (R·E·L) Rief is the founder and owner of Rief Legal, a criminal / DUI defense law office in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as former prosecutor in multiple DA's Offices in California.

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