Mr. James W. Smith III is a partner in the Orlando office of CPLS, P.A. He is a member of the Firm’s Criminal Defense Practice Group. He also works closely with the Firm’s Litigation, Appellate, Divorce & Family, and Business Law Practice Groups.
Mr. Smith has practiced almost exclusively in criminal law for more than 20 years. His extensive experience includes working in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Middle District of Florida as a trial and appellate attorney and the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps in a variety of leadership roles.
Mr. Smith’s served as a trial and appellate attorney in the Office of the Federal Public Defender in the Orlando Division. During his seven years in the office Mr. Smith handled a wide variety of cases in federal court and before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. .
Prior to practicing in the civilian legal system, Mr. Smith spent eight years practicing criminal defense in the United States Army Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG), serving in numerous positions such as military prosecutor, military defense counsel, senior defense counsel, chief of international law, and chief of military justice.
Mr. Smith handles a broad array of criminal law issues including criminal defense appeals, criminal record sealing and expungement, driving/boating under the influence, drug crimes, guns/firearms/weapons charges, juvenile crimes, sex crimes, theft crimes, traffic violations, violation of probation, violent crimes, and white collar crimes. He has significant experience in sexual assault cases, child pornography, federal criminal practice, and white collar crime.
In October of 2010, in the case of United States v. Samuel Torres-Cruz, Case No. 6:10-CR-121-ORL-31KRS, Mr. Smith obtained an acquittal in federal court for a client charged with statutory rape.
In the case of United States v. Luther Wayne Smith, Mr. Smith’s appellate brief and oral argument resulted in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturning the client’s sentence of 15 years. On resentencing the client was eventually given a sentence of time served.
In May of 2012 Mr. Smith’s creative sentencing advocacy helped a client charged with the possession of child pornography obtain a sentence of probation.
Mr. Smith was recently selected by the Federal Bar Association to teach evidence and litigation skills to lawyers practicing in federal court.
Mr. Smith strives to gain justice for his clients through dismissal of charges, acquittals in federal and state court, favorable plea deals, restoration of rights and sealing of criminal records, and overturning convictions and sentences on appeals.
Mr. Smith balances a heavy and diverse caseload while instructing at the National Criminal Defense College and Florida Public Defender Prosecutor Training Program where he regularly lectures and trains attorneys on trials skill nationally and internationally.
Mr. Smith is also an Adjunct Professor at Florida A&M University College of Law where he teaches several courses including Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Trial Practice, and Scientific Evidence.
Mr. Smith is a regular lecturer at the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Board Certification Seminar. Mr. Smith has twice received the award for Professor of the Year and published scholarly articles in the area of military justice and international law.
A retired military veteran, Mr. Smith remains active in various professional and community organizations while being an active 5K runner and mud race participant and a local trivia champion.
Areas of Practice
- Criminal Law (Federal and State)
- Military Justice
- Military Personnel Law
- Personal Injury
- State of Florida
- State of South Carolina
- Juris Doctorate, 1994. Duke Law School.
- Master of Arts in Political Science, 1994. Duke Law School.
- B.A. in Political Science, 1991. Hampton University.
- Florida Bar Association
- Orange County Bar Association
- Paul C. Perkins Bar Association