Exam Prep: Criminal Law Certified Legal Specialist Exam (State only) (CA)(Recording in 2019)

Audio program! (check our CLE Programs page for live versions)

The CA Bar Criminal Law Legal Specialist Exam is held in every odd year in October by the CA Board of Legal Specialization.

We stopped holding programs in all topics other than appellate law in 2019, after the bar unexpectedly took down their links to our (and our competitor’s) Exam Prep programs.  Prior to that, links to our and our competitor’s programs were on the bar’s website for more than a decade (with an appropriate disclaimer that they did not endorse any program).  This ensured that attorneys taking the exam could easily find an appropriate and affordable prep course to help them pass the exam.

If you would like us to hold a program in your topic area, please email the bar and ask them to resume putting links to our programs – as well as our competitors like CEB – as they did for more than a decade. Were the bar to resume posting links to our programs as well as our competitors, we would go back to holding prep courses in other practice areas.  If you would like to request that they do that, please email them at: legalspec@calbar.ca.gov or email the Bar’s Executive Director, Leah T. Wilson directly at: leaht.wilson@calbar.ca.gov and request they post the links to all exam prep course providers. They do know the main providers of these courses as they would ask us for our links ever year the exam and course was held, and they posted everyone’s courses.

If you would like to take our 2019 course, the description is below. You will still find it valuable, however, it is up to you to know whether there have been any changes to the law or rules since 2019.

Here is your chance to study for the CA Criminal Law Specialist Exam with guidance from Criminal Law Certified Legal Specialists and former Commissioners who wrote and graded the exam in Criminal Law.

In this program, held over the course of two days, you will get a thorough overview of the critical areas of state Criminal Law listed on the bar’s “possible test topics” for 2019 as well as tips on how to take the exam, what to expect on exam day and how to study for it.

The 600-page study guide is worth the price alone.

Also included in this package is our updated 2022 Crimmigration three-hour webinar in both audio and video format and a detailed outline (in the handbook) on Criminal Writs written by a former 25+ year career staff attorney from the CA Appellate Court who spent most of that career handling criminal writs.

By taking these courses, you can eliminate the stress that goes with the unknown when preparing for the exam and you can get guidance and subject matter review from those that have taken the exam previously. You can reinforce your knowledge base, refresh your memory about those legal topics for which you do not frequently practice and learn the critical areas of law most likely to be tested upon in those criminal practice areas in which you do not practice at all.

This program is for the state criminal law exam.

In a follow up session on October 4th, from 10:00 – 12:00, we held a practice essay session with two questions found in the Bar’s sample packet in 2019, that will conclude with issue spotting and a review of how you could have best answered those questions (the practice test answers will be discussed and not be graded).

Everyone who purchases this webinar recording will also receive a copy of the issue spotting practice test webinar as well as a webinar on the Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions and a detailed outline on Criminal Writs written by a former 25+ year career staff attorney from the CA Appellate Court who spent most of that career handling criminal writs.

This program is a recorded webinar.

This webinar was recorded live on August 8-9, 2019 and the follow up session was recorded on October 4, 2019. The Exam Prep webinar recording in CD or Download format, including all seminar materials, is available now. 



Please note: Because we cannot know exactly what specific questions and issues the bar will test on, and their “potential topic list” is vast, our program covers most of those topics that the bar lists they might test, but not all. This means that we cannot guarantee every single question or issue that appears on your exam is covered in our course (that would pretty much be impossible). We also strongly recommend you begin studying for the exam early – as early as summer. Last minute studying, even with the help of this course, is always a risky proposition when it comes to such a difficult exam covering so many areas of criminal law.

Please note: If you took this course in 2015 or 2017 and did not pass the exam, please call us about a special rate at (877) 858-3848.



If you would like more information from the CA Bar on their exam and becoming a Certified Legal Specialist, click here.


What You Will Learn

Day One Topics

Preparing for the Exam and What to Expect

Intro to speakers, Specialization & Exam

  • What is specialization? Requirements for specialization
  • Exam details
    • Morning – 8 essays/short answers in 4 hours
    • Afternoon – 75 multiple choice
  • Writing of the Exam / Discussion of IRAC
  • Grading of the Exam
  • What the exam was like
  • What to expect
  • How to prepare / study plans
  • Practical considerations

State Juvenile [Subject Matter 5]

5.1      W&I 707/ Prop 21
5.2      W&I 602
5.3      Disposition
5.4      Detention hearings
5.5      Age/competency
5.6      Records

Crimes & Defenses [Subject Area 2]

2.2 Murder (special circumstances)

  • short basic review, nothing in-depth, i.e.:
  • types of special circumstances, felony-murder rule, aiding and abetting, conspiracy

Professional Responsibility [Subject Area 1]

1.1 Duties to client, opposing counsel and the Court
1.2 Conflicts of interest
1.3 Dual representation

Federal Sentencing [Subject Area 6]

6.1  Guidelines
6.2  Mandatory minimum/maximum
6.3  Violations of probation and supervised release
6.4  Bureau of Prisons Issues
6.5  Criminal Forfeiture
6.6  Detention

Networking Lunch with Faculty

Appeals [Subject Area 4]

4.1 Preserving appellate issues and perfecting right to appeal
4.2 Misdemeanor appeals
4.3 Felony appeals
4.4 Federal and State Habeas Corpus
3.22 Preserving appellate issues


Trial Court and Procedure – [Subject Area 3]

3.2 Arraignment
3.4 Plea bargaining
3.6 Grand Jury proceedings
3.7 Discovery
3.8 Preliminary hearings
3.9 Pre-trial and trial publicity
3.10 Right to speedy trial
3.11 Line-ups and identification
3.14 Pre-trial motion practice
3.17 Evidence
3.18 Expert witnesses
3.20 Jury selection

Trial Court and Procedure Continued – [Subject Area 3]

3.1 Arrest and bench warrants, summons/subpoenas
3.3 Deferred entry of judgment and diversion
3.12 Search and seizure
3.15 Confessions and admissions
3.21 Misdemeanor sentencing
3.22 Preserving appellate issues
3.23 Felony sentencing

  • 3.23.2 Prior convictions
  • 3.23.3 Enhancements
  • 3.23.4 Probation
  • 3.23.5 Proposition 36
  • 3.23.7 Expungements and similar relief
  • 3.23.8 Immigration consequences
  • 3.23.9 Duties after judgment
  • 3.23.10 Writs

3.24 Present and future collateral consequences and disabilities

Crimes & Defenses Continued [Subject Area 2]

2.3 Sex crimes and related consequences (statute of limitations)
2.4 Tactics/strategies
2.5 Mental health issues and related consequences
2.6 Not guilty by reason of insanity
2.7 Not guilty by reason of insanity hearings on restoration of sanity and extensions of commitment


Day Two Topics

Crimes and Defenses Continued – [Subject Area 2]

 2.1 DUIs

  • great bodily injury
  • multiple victim enhancements
  • gross negligence
  • sentencing
  • plea bargaining
  • recognizing uncharged enhancements

2.8 Conspiracy
2.9 Crimes against property
2.10 Crimes against person
2.11 Narcotics
2.12 Gang Crimes and enhancements
2.13 Vicarious liability, aiding, and abetting
2.14 “Victimless” Crimes 

Trial Court and Procedure Continued – [Subject Area 3]

3.23 Felony sentencing

  • 3.23.1 California Rules of Court
  • 3.23.6 Three Strikes

3.5 Pleadings, joinder and severance
3.13 Informants
3.16 Trial motions
3.25 Sexually Violent Predator proceedings
3.26 Mentally Disordered Offender proceedings
3.27 Credit for time served and related provisions
3.28 Bail and other forms of release from custody pending finality of judgment
3.29 Present competency proceedings 


Day Three Webinar

Issue spotting and final q/a

  • Issue spotting re: two practice exam questions
  • Issue spotting/potential answers for other sample questions provided in Bar packet, as time allows



The following testimonials are from our 2019 program:

“I thought that the program was great. There was a lot of information that I already knew, so that reinforced my knowledge base (I have been a public defender for 12 years), which made me feel good. The stuff that I did not know, with respect to juvie and whatnot was really helpful.”

“David Cohen’s session was outstanding. Great practical info.” – Leah Kisner Cahoon, Esq.


The following testimonials are from our previous Exam Prep courses on Criminal Law.

“I passed the last criminal specialist exam thanks to your course. It was very helpful.” David Sandhaus, Esq.

“Speakers were knowledgeable and effective.” Vijan Dinakar, Esq.

“Topics were very concise.” Tai Bogan, Esq.

“Great speakers. Thank you.”

“Interesting and fun seminar. Good idea having state bar presenters, very helpful.” David Sanhaus, Esq.

“Excellent speakers. All were great. Thank you.”

“Mike Cavalluzzi was awesome!”


Jessica Agnich, Esq.
Principal/Certified Legal Specialist in Criminal Law
The Law Office of Jessica Agnich

Jessica Agnich is a criminal defense attorney in San Mateo County. She has been practicing exclusively in the area of criminal defense since 2005. She was a Deputy Public Defender in Solano County for eight years before going into private practice in 2013. Since 2013 Jessica has been a solo practitioner taking court appointed and retained cases in Bay Area counties.

 The majority of her practice has been devoted to serious felonies and felony practice. Her current office is in Redwood City where she is on the San Mateo County Private Defender Panel. Jessica took and passed the Criminal Legal Specialization exam in 2017 and is now a specialist in criminal law certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.

Garrick A. Byers, Esq.
Certified Legal Specialist in Criminal Law
Law Office of Garrick A. Byers

Garrick Byers has been a California Certified Specialist in Criminal Law since 1990.  He is currently a solo attorney focusing on indigent appeals.  Prior to opening his own law practice, Mr. Byers was with the Contra Costa Public Defender’s office and the Fresno County Public Defender’s office for twenty-nine years.

Garrick has tried more than 100 jury trials to verdict, from misdemeanors to homicides, and just about every type of case in between.  He has handled all other phases of thousands of all types of criminal cases from arraignment to pretrial proceedings, to trial sentencing, to probation violations, to appeals.  

In both Fresno and Contra Costa, Garrick handled motions, research, felony pre-trial writs, case staffing, court appearances on difficult and unusual cases, office-wide trainings, and similar tasks.  He was and is an “internal office consultant” and general “go to guy” on all types of cases that public defenders handle.

He is currently (2013) the First Vice President of the California Public Defenders Association (CPDA). He is also the Chair of the CPDA’s Ethics Committee and a member of the Legislative Committee.

Garrick received his JD from the Antioch School of Law (now Univ. of Dist. of Col. David A. Clarke School of Law), Washington D.C in 1979.

Garrick is the author of the only comprehensive treatise on Public Safety Realignment (AB 109), the 2011 massive revision of California’s felony sentencing laws.  His Realignment treatise is web-distributed by CPDA, California Continuing Education of the Bar, and linked-to by the California Courts, and many others.

Garrick speaks frequently at CPDA and other CLE events on jury trials, new criminal laws, sentencing, ethics, drug treatment programs, motions practice, discovery, pleas, and many other topics.

He is also a contributor to the CEB, California Criminal Law, Procedure and Practice, including three Chapters: “Public Records,” “Motion to Disclose Informant’s Identity, ”and “Trial Counsel’s Duties After Judgment” 2013 edition (with 2014 edition forthcoming) and previous editions (most annual) back to (depending on the chapter) 2005. 

Garrick previously authored and edited many articles related to criminal law and trials and sections in the Mathew Bender California Criminal Defense Practice reporter.

In 2012 Garrick received a Special Recognition Award from the California Public Defenders Association for his many contributions to Criminal Defense. 

David J. Cohen, Esq.
Owner/Certified Legal Specialist in Criminal Law
Bay Area Criminal Lawyers, PC

David J. Cohen is an experienced Bay Area based criminal defense attorney. He has tried over 45 federal and state criminal cases to juries, and briefed and argued more than 60 federal and state criminal appeals. He has experience working with both major law firms and with the government.

He began his legal career in New York City in 1987, practicing with two well-known law firms, Brown & Wood, L.L.P. and Kostelanetz Ritholz Tigue & Fink. 

In 1989 Mr. Cohen relocated to California, where he joined the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc., widely acknowledged to be one of the best public defender offices in the country. As a trial attorney at Federal Defender’s of San Diego, Inc., he represented hundreds of criminal defendants on a wide variety of matters ranging from drug offenses and violent crimes to complex fraud cases. Despite limited resources, he was able to win acquittal, hung juries, or dismissals in the majority of the cases he tried at the federal defenders office. He also lectured on criminal defense topics, and authored an article for the nationally circulated Federal Defender Manual.

Following his service as a federal public defender, Mr. Cohen formed the law firm of Cohen & Hubachek in San Diego, California. At the firm, he defended both state and federal criminal matters. He was lead counsel in a number of lengthy federal criminal jury trials and briefed and argued a number of federal criminal appeals. In the area of white collar criminal defense, Mr. Cohen won the dismissals of three major securities and mail fraud indictments arising from multi-year and multi-agency investigations. The subject matter of the cases he has defended includes mail fraud, wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, weapon offenses, violent crimes, narcotics offenses, conspiracy, forfeiture, and extradition.

Since 1996, Mr. Cohen has practiced in San Francisco, California, first establishing a satellite office for Cohen & Hubachek, and then opening the firm Bay Area Criminal Lawyers, PC. He has continued his emphasis on white collar criminal defense, including the defense of the first federal computer crimes jury trial in the Northern District of California and the defense of two of the largest securities fraud cases ever brought in that district.

On the federal level, Mr. Cohen continues to represent clients charged in large drug conspiracies, complex fraud schemes, gun possession, and a variety of other offenses.

In addition, Mr. Cohen has handled a number of state court trials in the past five years, including the representation of clients charged with violent felonies, Three Strikes Cases, drug, narcotic, and weapons offenses, sex offenses, and persons charged with crimes as juveniles.

In 2017, Mr. Cohen opened a new branch office in Dublin, California to better serve the growing number of criminal cases stemming from Alameda County. Mr. Cohen is an active member of the Alameda Criminal Court Appointed Attorneys Program (CAAP). Mr. Cohen regularly represents criminal matters in Alameda County, including clients charged with murder and seri.

Mr. Cohen continually hones his advocacy skills by participating in seminars and conferences pertaining to jury trial techniques and advances of technology and defense tactics in the area of white collar crime.

As a dedicated Bay Area criminal defense attorney, Mr. Cohen utilizes his experience and knowledge to give back to the legal community as Chair of The State Bar of California, Criminal Law Advisory Commission where he has volunteered numerous hours since joining the commission in 2014.

Daniel Horowitz, Esq.
Principal/Certified Legal Specialist in Criminal Law
Law Office of Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a CA State Bar Certified Legal Specialist in Criminal Law, specializing in criminal defense. Only approximately 200 lawyers are certified as criminal defense specialists in California.

With more than 25 murder trials, seven death penalty trials and 200 jury trials, Mr. Horowitz is one of the nation’s most experienced high stakes litigators. His recent criminal jury trials have included multiple murder cases, drug conspiracy, attempted murder, and complex gang litigation.

Mr. Horowitz defends physicians and medical professionals who are charged with medical fraud and medical practice related crimes. Licensing board accusations provide little due process and Mr. Horowitz aggressively protects the licenses of physicians and chiropractors in medical licensing cases at the board/accusation level.

Mr. Horowitz has represented author Terry McMillan, actor Al Pacino, and pianist Oksana Grigorieva. He currently represents talk show host Michael Savage. He also worked with the Nation’s Leading Political Lawyer, Martin Garbus on the “Cuban Five” case which helped President Obama re-open relations between Cuba and the United States.

Mr. Horowitz has been a law school trial law professor, a criminal law college instructor, and a consultant for the leading criminal law book in California (California Criminal Law Practice and Procedure). Mr. Horowitz is a frequent speaker at legal education events and an author of numerous law journal articles. He is also a licensed real estate broker, a Registered Investment Advisor and a Member of the City of Lafayette Crime Prevention Commission.

Thomas Kensok, Esq.

Lawyers in Lafayette

Tom Kensok has been practicing criminal law since 1987, when he joined the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office. He graduated from Saint Mary’s College and received his J.D. from Hastings College of Law. Tom spent 30 years with the District Attorney’s Office, where he dedicated much of his career prosecuting gang murders. Before retiring he served as an administrator and was active in several efforts to reduce violence, including ceasefire and the United States Justice Department’s Violence Reduction Network.

Tom is now in private practice at Lawyers in Lafayette and his work includes criminal defense.

George Mavris, Esq.
Certified Legal Specialist in Family Law
Law Office of George M. Mavris

George M. Mavris is a solo practitioner in Del Norte County, California, where he has been practicing since 1995.  He is a Certified Specialist in Family Law.  In 2017, he took and passed the specialist exam in Criminal Law.  Upon completion of his certification, he will be one of only two attorneys in the State of California who are certified as specialists in both criminal and family law.

George is a 1995 graduate of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.  At the time of his graduation, he was the production editor of the Entertainment Law Journal and was published in the law journal the previous year (Volume 14, No. 2, 1994).

Since commencing his practice in 1995, he has had experience involving a vast array of cases across a broad spectrum of legal fields ranging from murder to medical malpractice, child custody to personal injury, landlord-tenant law to W&I 300 cases, elder abuse to overturning a local election.  His case Robert B. v. Susan B, (2003) 109 Cal. App. 4th 1109 stands as the leading case in the area of IVF, child custody and also resulted in a multimillion dollar settlement and the revocation of a negligent physician’s license. 

George has also been a guest speaker on issues of Landlord-Tenant law, provides pro-bono legal services for the Humane Society, is a criminal staff attorney for the California Teacher’s Association and is also one of two local attorneys that handle all Pelican Bay State Prison defense cases and writs.

George is a married father of 3 small children who regularly returns to Greece, his country of birth, to visit family and friends as well as using it as a launching point to travel all over the world exploring with his family.  He is a life-long Los Angeles, Anaheim, St. Louis, Los Angeles soon-to-be Inglewood Rams fan.

Dorian A. Peters, Esq.
Certified Legal Specialist in Criminal Law
Law Office of Dorian Peters

Dorian A. Peters is an East Bay native, born and raised in Berkeley. He began his education at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, and then transferred to UC Berkeley, where he double majored in political science and mass communications. Go Bears! Through UC Berkeley, he was able to serve as a press and policy intern in Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office in Washington, D.C.

Dorian then traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Vanderbilt Law School, where he participated in the moot court and mock trial programs. He had the opportunity to intern in the chambers of U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Hoyt in Houston, Texas, and he also worked as a law clerk for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Defender’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nashville and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office. Upon graduation, he became a prosecutor in the CCC District Attorney’s Office, where he tried about 35 cases to a jury and worked in several units.

One of the highlights of his career was a brief stint at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as part of the Employment Advocacy and Prosecution Team, where he investigated and litigated employee misconduct matters in front of the State Personnel Board. After that, he went into private practice, focusing mostly on criminal defense work, and joined the Gagen, McCoy, McMahon, Koss, Markowitz & Raines law firm, where he practiced criminal defense and handled employment discipline issues involving misconduct or licensing. He recently started his own firm.

He is active in many different parts of the Contra Costa County Bar Association. Currently, he serves as a committee member and a panelist on the Criminal Conflict Program, a volunteer fee arbitrator for both the CCCBA and the State Bar, and a CCCBA delegate to the California Conference of Bar Associations. Dorian participates in the Robert G. McGrath American Inn of Court and also served as a board member of the Barristers Section, where he assisted in the drafting of the current bylaws.

Outside of the CCCBA, he is a member of the Leadership Council for the nonprofit Center for Youth Development through Law, a pipeline program focused on exposing under-privileged youth to the legal system, and encouraging them to attend college and pursue careers as attorneys.

Erin Radekin, Esq.
Certified Legal Specialist in Criminal Law
Law Offices of Erin Radekin

Erin J. Radekin graduated from McGeorge School of Law in 2001 and was admitted to the bar in November, 2001.  Since then she has practiced criminal defense, representing clients at all stages of criminal proceedings, state and federal, in the wider Sacramento area. She has been on the CJA felony panel handling appointed felony federal cases since 2005. She has been on CCAP handling state appointed appeals since 2015. Erin has been on the CJA appeals/habeas panel handling appointed federal habeas and appellate cases since 2016. In the last 10 years her practice has become increasingly specialized in the area of post-conviction relief for those seeking to mitigate immigration consequences of criminal convictions.  Presently, about 60% of her practice is privately retained post-conviction work in this area.  The remainder of her practice consists of a mix of privately retained and appointed criminal cases, state and federal, pre- and post-conviction. She became a Certified Legal Specialist in Criminal Law, November, 2018.

Damian Spieckerman, Esq.
Deputy Public Defender
Solano County Office of the Public Defender

Damian Spieckerman was recently awarded the 2018 PJDC Defender of the Year Award at the PJDC Annual Roundtable. As a Deputy Public Defender with the Solano County Public Defender’s Office, Damian has spent half of his 15-year career as a public defender advocating for youth in the juvenile delinquency system. He has distinguished himself by his passion for working with youth and providing them with the best possible legal representation. As a result of his extraordinary advocacy, Damian has helped shaped California juvenile delinquency law.

In addition to assisting youth in the delinquency system, he also seeks parole for youthful offenders, many of them former lifers, via post-conviction litigation. Damian also serves on the Solano County Juvenile Justice Commission and frequently represents the Solano County Public Defender’s Office at county-wide and regional juvenile justice events.


Webinar Recording & Materials Package * – CD or Download format: $650

For CDs please add $8.50 shipping and, in CA, sales tax.

*The PDF handbook included in your materials package is almost 700 pages and worth the price of the package alone!


We recommend ordering the download to receive your audio faster – CDs will take two-three days to arrive. We ship by two-day mail.

We’re sorry, but we do not give refunds for audio downloads under any circumstances.  Our audio downloads are tested independently by three different entities to be sure they work before we post them for sale. We are happy to two-day or overnight you replacement CDs if your computer will not download properly or if you cannot find your download folder or you cannot find the audio to play it once it has been downloaded. We are also happy to troubleshoot the issue with you or your IT person or have our IT person do the same with your IT person.
Please note – the most recent versions of Windows has broken their own Windows Media Player. If you have upgraded your computer to any of the most recent versions of Windows, you will need to use a different Media Player as Microsoft broke their own player. This is not something that we have control over, so you may want to purchase CDs if you do not have a working Media Player. We recommend using Groove Music if you are using Windows 8 or Windows 10.  

CLE Credit

This program is available for both Self-Study and Participatory CLE.*

CA General:  This program is approved for 9.75 units.

CA Certified Legal Specialist:  This program is approved for 9.75 Certified Legal Specialist CLE in California until 8/21/2021, as follows:

  • 8.0 hours in sub-field C
  • .50 hour in sub-field D
  • 1.25 hours in sub-field E

Exam tips and practice exams cannot be counted in the approved CLE units, per the bar.

*Participatory CLE:  For those states that make a distinction between self-study and Participatory CLE (CA, IL, NY), please write down the Verification Codes read out during the program by speakers or our announcer and email them to us at info@pincusproed.com and we will issue your Participatory CLE certificate. 

Self-Study CLE certificates are already included in your recorded package, in the “Materials” Folder. 

$650.00 each

Recording on August 8-9, 2019