(916) 974-3500

Trial Practice

Mr. Heller has been an active member of the New York Bar since 1969 and the California Bar since 1973.  Mr. Heller has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. District Courts in the Eastern, Northern, Central and Southern Districts of California and the Southern District of New York. Mr. Heller has been admitted pro hoc vice in multiple  U.S. District Courts throughout the United States and most recently have been admitted pro hoc vice in the  the Eastern District of New York and the District of Massachusetts.

  • Mr. Heller was Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office (1969-1973) and had the exceptional experience participating in the investigation and trial of more than three hundred court and jury trials involving almost every type of general criminal offense including but not limited homicide, burglary, robbery, extortion, assault, attempted murder, rape and reckless endangerment.
  • Mr. Heller was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California (1973 to 1977) and prosecuted almost every possible federal criminal offense including but not limited to wire and mail fraud; false statements to government officials and agents; tax evasion; federal firearms violations; perjury; bank robbery, federal drug offenses; conspiracies involving defrauding the United States in healthcare matters; and federal environmental offenses including the prosecution of South Pacific Railroad in respect to the pollution of the Sacramento River near Dunsmuir, California; successfully prosecuted the first federal civil rights crime ever charged in the Eastern District of California arising out of a despicable cross-burning perpetrated by three individuals on the front lawn of the home of an African American family who moved into a white neighborhood in Stockton, CA; and the successful prosecution and conviction with U.S. Attorney Dwayne Keyes of Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme for the attempted assassination of President Gerald R. Ford in Sacramento in 1975.
  • Special Prosecutor in both the State and Federal Courts of California on four occasions, including the successful prosecution of a complicated federal narcotics conspiracy case; a tax evasion case; and two Department of Justice lawyers for criminal contempt; As a state special prosecutor in El Dorado County California, Mr. Heller conducted a grand jury investigation into the business affairs of a county official in a conflict of interest investigation. Special Master appointed by the Presiding Judge of the Placer County Superior Court to conduct an investigation as to a possible conflict of interest on the part of the local public defender’s office in the representation of an indigent defendant.
  • Private practice since 1977. Mr. Heller has tried to verdict complex criminal cases in both the state and federal courts, including but not limited to murder, embezzlement, forgery, mail and wire fraud, tax evasion, robbery, Medicare and Medi-Cal Fraud, money laundering, RICO and Continuing Criminal Enterprise and securities fraud.  Mr. Heller has successfully represented individuals in federal and state criminal investigations and has on multiple occasions avoid prosecutions or successfully settled cases for less.

Donald H Heller Sacramento White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney

Appellate Experience

Representation of clients in appeals of criminal convictions to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Courts of Appeal and Supreme Court of California. Mr. Heller has had substantial appellate experience as both a federal prosecutor in representing the United States on appeals to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and in his thirty plus years of private law practice and has prepared more than thirty appellate briefs and writs of mandate.


  • Judge Pro Tem of the Sacramento County Superior Court since 1986.
  • Master of the Bench of the Anthony M. Kennedy, American Inn of Court in Sacramento since 2001.
  • Featured in Best Lawyers in America in the areas of White Collar and Non-White Criminal Defense.
  • Best Lawyers in America is a distinguished a peer review publication.
  • Featured in Sacramento Business Journal as one of the Region’s Top Lawyers in criminal defense in Northern California.

Featured in Super Lawyers for Northern California in White Collar Criminal Defense in San Francisco Magazine.

Member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Sacramento Valley Chapter, a distinguished national organization comprised of the most skilled and experienced trial lawyers in the United States. ABOTA is an organization that invites its members to join after an internal nominating process and vote of the local chapter and requires at a minimum twenty trials to verdict in the state and/or federal courts and a proven reputation for competence, civility and ethics.

Mr. Heller is listed as Preeminent Lawyer in the renowned Martindale-Hubbell “Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers™”. As described by Martindale-Hubbell: “For over 90 years, the Bar Register has been a unique guide to the legal community’s most eminent professionals. It includes only those select law practices that have earned the highest rating in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory and have been designated by their colleagues as preeminent in their field.” Martindale-Hubbell has rated Mr. Heller “AV”, its highest rating since 1980.

Mr. Heller has lectured and has given seminars on a wide variety of criminal law topics including search and seizure, trial practice, evidence, examination and cross-examination of expert witnesses for more than thirty years and has served as a guest lecturer on trial practice at Hastings Law School, McGeorge Law School and UC Davis Law School.  Mr. served as a Lecturer and Instructor at the United States Attorney General’s Advocacy Institute on topics such as the prosecution of a federal criminal case, search and seizure issues and final argument in criminal cases.


BA Queens College, Flushing, N.Y.
JD Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn, N.Y

Newspaper Articles

San Francisco Daily Journal, June 8, 2000 (PDF)
Sacramento News & Review April 29, 2004 (PDF)