Attorney Charlotte Steffen2020-02-29T21:52:06-05:00

Charlotte SteffenCharlotte Steffen

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Michigan

Celebrating 20 YearsCharlotte Steffen primarily practices in criminal defense and driver’s license restorations. She has been practicing law for nearly 20 years. Her experience includes thousands of criminal cases, including capital offenses and high profile cases. She began her career at the Legal Aid and Defender Association of Detroit, handling the toughest felonies in Wayne County. She went into private practice in 2002 and has continued helping those who need it most.

Charlotte is an adjunct law professor at the Detroit Mercy Law School in the Criminal Trial Clinic. She supervises student attorneys and lectures on drunk driving and driver’s license issues. She is also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan in which she helps train lawyers to become trial lawyers.

Charlotte has attended the best colleges and universities. She is a graduate of the prestigious Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College, the Detroit Mercy School of Law, and the University of Michigan. She scored in the top five percent on the bar examination.


  • Detroit Mercy Law School, Juris Doctor
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy

Continuing Education

  • Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College
  • NHTSA Certified in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing
  • Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan Trial College
  • Western Trial Advocacy Institute
  • Wayne County Criminal Advocacy Program


  • National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers)
  • Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM)
    • Member since 2002
    • Board Member 2014-2015
  • Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association
  • State Bar of Michigan-Criminal Law Section
  • Licensed in the Eastern District of Michigan Federal Court

What Area of Law Are You Skilled in & Why?

I am highly skilled in criminal defense and driver license restoration. I have practiced criminal defense for nearly 20 years and have handled probably 10,000 criminal defense matters. Many of the offenses have been capital offenses. I have regularly attended continuing legal education seminars and have attended Trial Colleges. I have taught as an adjunct Law Professor in the Criminal Law Clinic at the University of Detroit Law School. Very few criminal defense lawyers are actually trial lawyers. Hard to believe, I know! Any lawyer can plead the client guilty as charged or to a lesser offense. Trial lawyers are trained and experienced to battle against the government in a jury trial and win. I am a graduate of the prestigious Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College. I am also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan Trial College. I teach criminal defense lawyers on how to become trial lawyers.

Over the last few years, my practice has concentrated on driver license restorations. Last year, I handled nearly 70 of them, which is more than any other lawyer I know of. My success rate for winning on the first try is nearly 99%. I attribute my success to experience and also to my attention to detail. The Secretary of State requires each document to be perfect and to perfectly align with each other document and with the Petitioner’s testimony. I have perfectionistic tendencies (I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as self-diagnosed OCD), which makes me a great fit for this line of work.

Why Are You Passionate about Law or What Made You Pursue Law?

I was 7 years old the first time I declared that I wanted to be a lawyer. I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum, which I believe some authority figures didn’t like. I have always had a tendency to question authority. I wanted to be empowered and I felt that knowing the law would armor me with the ability to challenge the law with authority and respect.

What Is Your Most Memorable Moment in Practicing?

It’s hard to name just one. My first jury trial was just six months out of law school. I was working as a public defender at the Legal Aid and Defender Association. My client was charged with felonious assault and because he was a 4th habitual offender, he was facing a life sentence. He was offered a good plea bargain but he maintained his innocence and did not want to plead to something he didn’t do. We pressed forward with the trial. His ex-girlfriend claimed that he had threatened her with a knife. During her testimony, she exaggerated the details and it became apparent that she was not being honest. The jury found my client NOT GUILTY. He bowed his head and wept. Interestingly, the assistant prosecuting attorney went on to become a judge, and the judge, in that case, went on to become the County Prosecutor.

What Are Some of Your Hobbies & Interests?

I am a single mother to two beautiful daughters. Between raising them and working as an attorney, there is not a lot of time leftover. I spend my free time working in my yard. I love nature and the satisfaction of beautifying my yard with my own hands and labor. I enjoy pretty much any outdoor activity from hiking to biking, skiing, and boating. I attend church regularly and enjoy studying the Bible and fellowship with other women.

What Is Your Favorite City/Township for a Case?

Wayne County. My first job out of law school was a public defender for the Legal Aid and Association of Detroit. We handled exclusively Wayne County felonies at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. As a result of practicing there on a daily basis, I became very familiar and comfortable with the judges and court staff. It’s a spectacular court. The volume of cases is tremendous as is the magnitude of the offenses. For most, it is intimidating, but for me it’s comfortable.

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