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    Know and Protect Your Rights in a Criminal Defense Matter

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      Know and Protect Your Rights in a Criminal Defense Matter

          Jo-Anna Nieves

          When you are charged with a criminal offense, you need a strong, experienced, and committed advocate. It’s a role that Jo-Anna Nieves has assumed many times, with great success. Jo-Anna began her post-bar legal career at the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, which gives Jo-Anna a rare perspective that she uses to support, advise, and defend you.

          “I love criminal law. It’s captivating and I’m passionate about it,”

                                                                   -Jo-Anna Nieves

          Jo-Anna is committed to mounting the best possible defense for what she calls “hard working, family-oriented, successful professionals who aren’t career criminals… some are falsely accused, others make a bad call like driving home after a couple glasses of wine at a work event.”

          Jo-Anna was 20 years old when she graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in both Multinational Business and Finance. She went on to earn her J.D. from Florida State University in May 2009, where she was also a member of Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc. Jo-Anna started her legal career by interning with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, where she gained experience in the arraignment of misdemeanor and domestic violence offenses, the prosecution of adult sexual assault crimes, and felony preliminary hearings. After Jo-Anna passed the California Bar, she continued her career at the Sacramento County DA’s Office. She gained experience in the misdemeanor trial unit, negotiating plea offers, arguing suppression motions, and prepping cases for trial. She also built a rapport with members of the legal community, and further developed her trial advocacy skills.

          Two years later, she accepted a position as a trial attorney at a creditor’s rights law practice in Los Angeles, where she effectively litigated over 400 cases by reaching favorable resolutions for her clients by way of settlement prior to trial and maintaining a success rate of 95% for over 100 cases that went to trial.

          In 2012, Jo-Anna started The Nieves Law Firm, APC, to help restore the reputation of those caught in California’s criminal justice system. Since opening her own office, she has successfully represented defendants charged with assault and battery, DUI, contempt, drug offenses, sexual assault and other sex crimes, robbery and other theft crimes, fraud, and domestic violence and other violent crimes. She also has an impressive track record in civil litigation matters such as civil harassment, domestic violence, workplace violence and elder abuse restraining orders.

          Jo-Anna has served as a mock trial coach for El Centro Legal de la Raza’s Youth Law Academy and their Advisory Board for several years and is a member of the Earl Warren Inns of Court. Jo-Anna also taught at Stanford Law School in 2018 and 2019 – educating future lawyers about Trial Advocacy. She is admitted to practice before all courts of the State of California and Florida and is admitted for federal practice in the United States District Courts for the Northern, Eastern and Central Districts of California.

          Martina Avalos

          Martina Avalos is an experienced, passionate trial attorney with an unwavering commitment to criminal defense. She is a Bay Area native who firmly believes that the foundation of her success in the legal field can be attributed to the steadfast trust between her and her clients. Martina has ample experience in the courtroom, and she has represented clients accused of a wide array of crimes, including murder, attempted murder, sex offenses, kidnapping, torture, conspiracy, fraud, drug sales, robbery, domestic violence and driving under the influence. She uses this experience to help clients achieve favorable outcomes in some of the most difficult situations.

          Martina earned her law degree from U.C. Davis, School of Law. She did her undergraduate work at U.C. Berkeley, where she majored in Anthropology and doubled minored in Art History & Theater and Performance Studies. Martina is a skilled trial attorney and negotiator who has practiced all over the state of California, gaining invaluable experience at multiple public defender offices including San Francisco, Monterey, Solano, and San Bernardino. During her time as a public defender at the San Bernardino Public Defender’s Office, Martina led a team of 8 felony attorneys whose dismissal rate rose over 73% under her guidance. As a fierce and relentless advocate, she is committed to providing her clients with exceptional legal representation.

          Martina is an avid dancer who is a former cheerleader for the then Oakland Raiders. She has trained at the Alvin Ailey Dance School in New York and has competed internationally in Salsa and Bachata.

          Grace Goodman

          Grace Goodman goes all-in for her clients, displaying an unwavering enthusiasm to protect the rights of every person she represents. Grace is a defense attorney at The Nieves Law Firm, focusing on crimes ranging from simple DUI’s to serious felony offenses. As a fourth generation lawyer, criminal defense laws are almost second nature to her.

          Grace is a Bay Area native who graduated from the University of San Francisco with a B.A. in English Creative Writing before attaining her law degree from U.C. Hastings College of Law. Prior to joining The Nieves Law Firm, Grace worked as a Public Defender in Santa Clara County, representing individuals facing a variety of criminal charges. This allowed her to gain ample experience and helped her forge relationships local prosecutors, law enforcement officers and judges in the area. In law school, Grace was a part of the Ms. JD program, a campus organization offering support and guidance to future female attorneys–a mission that Grace is very passionate about. She was also a member of the Associated Students of U.C. Hastings, helping make decisions on behalf of the student body that will impact future law students for years to come.

          Grace comes from a family of lawyers, so advocating for others is something she has grown up around her entire life. She knows that everyone deserves a second chance, and she is passionate about fighting for every single one of her clients. Grace also understands that criminal defense work is always about the client, and she is committed to helping her clients pursue outcomes that best suit their future goals in life.

          Grace knows that her studies of the Criminal Justice System will never stop, and she spends much of her free time learning as much as she can about California’s legal system. When she isn’t fighting for clients or broadening her legal knowledge, she enjoys reading, working-out, and playing with her chihuahua, Brian.

          Stephani Prieto

          Stephani Prieto is a criminal defense attorney at The Nieves Law Firm with unwavering passion for social justice and client-focused legal representation. Having lived in the Bay Area for much of her life, Stephani shares a strong connection with the local community and fellow Bay Area residents. Stephani believes that everyone should be afforded quality representation to prevent the perpetuation of systemic injustice.

          Stephani graduated from U.C. Davis with a B.A. in Political Science before attaining her law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law with a certificate in Public Interest. Stephani first developed her love of criminal defense as an undergraduate intern at the Yolo County Public Defender’s office. During law school, Stephani externed at various public defender offices in Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Jackson Mississippi, and Washington DC.

          Outside of the office Stephani enjoys working-out, spending time with family, and exploring the Bay Area.

          Jose Gonzalez

          Criminal defense attorney Jose Gonzalez prides himself on his client relation skills and goes the extra mile to ensure each of his clients feels informed at each step of the legal process. He comes from a Mexican working-class family and attributes much of his tenacity and work ethic to the example his parents set for him. He believes that truly helping a client with a legal matter stretches beyond the work he does in court, and he does his best to ensure that he develops a holistic legal plan that takes clients’ past, present, and future goals into account.

          Jose completed his undergraduate studies at U.C. Berkeley where he majored in Political Science. He went on to obtain his law degree with an emphasis in Criminal Justice from Santa Clara University. During law school, he worked as a clinical intern with the Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) where he was able to help exonerate an innocent woman who had spent 17 years at a womens’ correctional facility. His time as a clinical intern with NCIP emphasized the importance in maintaining vigilance in methods of investigation and the enormous gravity of providing effective counsel. Jose also completed various internships with the Santa Clara Public Defender’s office, where he ended up working as a public defender after passing the bar. This provided Jose the opportunity to gain valuable experience litigating cases and developing his trial skills.

          Jose is bilingual and can read, write, and speak fluent Spanish. He credits his interactions with his many monolingual non-English clients (of all languages) to helping him develop and hone his skills as a legal counselor. Jose sees the criminal justice system as a language that needs to be translated clearly to his clients and hopes to empower them to make knowledgeable decisions on their cases.

          When he is not prepping his clients’ cases, Jose enjoys running and working out. He has completed seven marathons, and his hobbies include watching boxing, football, or spending time with his nieces and nephews (of both human and dog forms).

          “Bryan Stevenson put it best when he stated, ‘The true measure of character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.’ I became a defense attorney to speak truth to power and ensure that every person’s humanity is placed before their current circumstances.” – Jose

          Jimarielle Bowie

          Jimarielle (Mari) Bowie is a criminal defense attorney at The Nieves Law Firm. As a Bay Area native, Mari has a personal connection to those engulfed in the criminal justice system and has worked as an activist, protestor, and organizer around systemic injustices. Mari is driven by a fundamental belief that one action is not indicative of your character and those charged with crimes should be treated in a holistic and restorative way. She is deeply committed to fighting injustices within the criminal justice system by representing individuals caught up in our justice system as well as educating the public on complex legal issues related to their rights.

          Mari received her bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University, where she graduated with honors at the age of 20 after having a baby. She went on to attend Charleston School of Law, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude before passing the California Bar Exam, all while pregnant with her second child. She was also awarded multiple Cali Excellence for the Future Awards while in law school, which are given to the highest scoring student in each law school class. Prior to joining The Nieves Law Firm, Mari gained experience in the legal field while working for Charleston Legal Access (a nonprofit in South Carolina) and the Solano County Public Defender’s Office.

          Mari knew from a young age she wanted to be a criminal defense attorney and that dedication has never waivered. Having been a person that was targeted and had to deal with the complex nature of our criminal justice system after being arrested while organizing a protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Mari knows the personal toll the system has on individuals and what the criminal process looks like from both sides. Mari is also fluent in Spanish and has experience translating for Spanish-speaking clients.

          In her free time, she dedicates herself to fighting the structural injustice within the criminal justice system to ensure her clients can enter the courtroom on a better and more equal playing field. When she is not spending her spare time fighting for people’s constitutional rights, she enjoys visiting a variety of local Bay Area restaurants. A self proclaimed foodie, Mari considers the Rooftop Restaurant and Bar in Walnut Creek her favorite place to eat.

          Haskell (Trey) Tull

          Haskell (Trey) Tull is a Criminal Investigator at The Nieves Law Firm, providing our attorneys with an experienced investigator they can rely on as they work through the criminal justice process for their clients. Trey’s experience in the criminal justice system is thorough, having previously worked in law enforcement and spending nearly 10 years working in various capacities including patrol, investigations, SWAT, and as a K9 handler. He investigated numerous crimes ranging from misdemeanor drug cases to felony sex assault crimes and homicide cases. He began noticing that police officers were not following the correct protocols and procedures when investigating crimes, however, and the officers and their corresponding agencies were not being held accountable. This is what ultimately caused him to leave the law enforcement field and begin practicing as a private investigator. Trey uses his prior work experience to help defend the clients we represent by ensuring law enforcement agencies are following the correct policies and procedures when investigating crimes.

          Trey’s certifications and experience make him an invaluable asset at The Nieves Law Firm, and one that most law firms and attorneys do not have access to. He has received a number of certifications related to the crime investigations, including certifications as a Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) Instructor, a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), a Field Training Officer (FTO), a Department of Homeland Security Active Shooter Instructor, a Close Quarters Combat Instructor, and a Chemical and Less Lethal Munitions Instructor. This provides Trey and The Nieves Law Firm’s team with firsthand insight into the tactics law enforcement officers use and how they are supposed to be utilized to safely conduct operations. He has extensive experience in the standards and training set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is important because failure to follow these standards invalidates the results of the tests.

          Prior to joining The Nieves Law Firm, Trey worked as an independent private investigator after leaving the law enforcement field. He is a Veteran of the Marine Corps, where he was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant. Trey had multiple deployments, serving in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

          When Trey is not assisting our attorneys with the investigation of crimes or determining the validity of law enforcement investigation procedures, he enjoys doing a variety of physical activities. He spends his spare time working out, running, and hiking. As a native of Louisiana, Trey spends most Saturdays in the fall cheering on the LSU Tigers.

          Ebony Caraballo

          Ebony Caraballo is the Office Manager at The Nieves Law Firm. She was born and raised in Florida and, after graduating from Florida State University, moved across the country to California where she became an intern at The Nieves Law Firm. She gained experience in criminal defense and quickly became skilled at law office management, client relations, and case management systems.

          In 2017, Ebony came back to The Nieves Law Firm as a paralegal where she felt she could affirmatively take a stand against mass incarceration and demand police accountability. Ebony exhibited hard work, dedication, and loyalty to The Nieves Law Firm, which landed her a new position in 2019 as The Nieves Law Firm’s office manager. To learn more about management, Ebony attended Western Governors University where she received her Masters in Management and Leadership in 2020. 

          Ebony thoroughly enjoys her position as our office manager. From interviewing potential new employees, onboarding them, training them in their new position, and teaching them The Nieves Law Firm way, she is our office’s go-to for any and all questions. Ebony is always finding new ways to create better systems and training guides to help our office grow and reach our goals. 

          Ebony’s hobbies include traveling, dancing, reading, and serving as a coordinator for youth activities at her church. She has a passion for helping youth and young adults, meeting new people, and experiencing life. Her future goal is to create a non-profit organization that is geared towards feeding and clothing the houseless.

          Nadia Khechfe

          Nadia Khechfe is the supervisor of the intake team and the lead client intake specialist at The Nieves Law Firm, conducting a needs analysis and exploring legal options with incoming clients. If you plan on hiring The Nieves Law Firm, you will likely speak to Nadia at some point in the hiring process. Nadia has firsthand experience witnessing how law enforcement unfairly treats minorities. Furthermore, she understands how the criminal justice system is stacked against minorities and the less fortunate, which fuels her desire to help find effective legal counsel for individuals facing criminal charges. Nadia believes utilizing defense attorneys and the criminal justice system are the best ways to hold law enforcement accountable for their wrongdoings.

          A Midwest native, Nadia is originally from Nebraska. She attended the University of Kansas on an athletic scholarship where she earned recognition from the Big 12 Conference for her high athletic achievements. She graduated in 2018, majoring in Journalism with a minor in Communications. Following graduation, Nadia volunteered with the People of Peru Project in Iquitos, Peru, then attended Duke University’s D.C. Summer Institute on Law and Policy in Washington D.C. to expand her legal knowledge.

          Nadia has ample experience leading a team. In her first position out of college, Nadia worked at a local law firm in Nebraska as the Supervisor of their Intake Department. She was instrumental in creating and launching a new intake system designed to make the process as seamless as possible for potential clients, increasing client retention rates and customer satisfaction. She also assisted the firm with marketing tasks such as planning events, social media, client relations, and sales. Nadia always knew she wanted to work in the criminal defense field, and after working at the firm, her passion for criminal defense was confirmed and her desire to help people grew. She feels empathy for those fighting what may be the biggest battle of their lives.

          During Nadia’s free time, she likes relaxing with her dog and cat (Walter and Melvin), watching sports, and chatting with her friends who are scattered around the country. Nadia’s long-term goal is to attend law school and become a criminal defense attorney.

          Jennifer Mendoza

          Client Intake Specialist Jennifer Mendoza has a deep passion for helping others, meeting new people, and embracing the present moment. Born and raised in Oakland, Jennifer brings a unique perspective and understanding of the local community to her work. With fluency in both Spanish and English, as well as beginner-level proficiency in Italian and Mandarin, she is able to connect with a diverse range of clients and colleagues.

          Jennifer obtained her bachelor’s degree in Political Science with an emphasis in Legal Studies and a Paralegal Certification from California State University Chico. While in school, she pioneered the ‘Women of Excellence’ program which builds a community of support for historically underrepresented self-identified female students and became a founding sister of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority Inc.

          With a future goal of attending law school, Jennifer is determined to create a career focused on making a positive impact on the lives of those who need it most. Through her involvement in legal organizations, Jennifer has developed a better understanding of her own experience as a first-generation Latina and has developed a strong desire to help underserved communities internationally. Her unwavering dedication to social justice and advocacy is a driving force in her work at our firm and beyond.

          In addition to her professional pursuits, Jennifer is a true adventurer who loves to explore new cultures and engage with people from all walks of life. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious, and she is always delighted to learn about people and their backgrounds.

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