Peter Offenbecher is a Principal in the firm. His practice focuses on criminal defense in federal and state courts. For over 35 years, Peter has provided the highest quality legal representation to clients facing the full spectrum of state and federal criminal charges. Peter provides legal advice to businesses and individuals facing investigations and inquiries from federal and state regulatory agencies, as well as vigorous representation at the trial and appellate stages of the criminal justice system.
Peter is admitted to practice in the federal and state courts in Washington and California. He is also admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Peter’s professional activities have included appointment to the Washington Supreme Court committees on pattern jury instructions and qualifications of lawyers in death penalty cases.
Peter has been a frequent presenter on topics of interest to criminal defense lawyers and is an active member of professional organizations, including the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Since 2001, Washington Law and Politics magazine has awarded Peter its “Super Lawyer” designation for white collar criminal defense.
B.A., Political Economy, awarded summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Colorado College, 1976
Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1976-1977
J.D., Order of the Coif, University of California at Davis School of Law, 1980
Recognized in U.S. News & World Report’s The Best Lawyers in America for his work in White Collar Criminal Defense, 2014–Present.
Lawyer of the Year for Seattle in the area of White Collar Criminal Defense, U.S. News & World Report’s Best Lawyers in America List, September 2014.
Tier 1 Ranking in the field of Criminal Defense: White Collar Crime, in the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Law Firms” survey, 2014–Present.
Top Attorneys in Washington, Seattle Met Magazine, 2014–Present.
Best Lawyers in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle Magazine, 2016.
William O. Douglas Award, Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2011.
Recognized in “Super Lawyer” Edition of Thomson Reuters Washington Super Lawyers Magazine, 2001–Present.
Distinguished Service Award, Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 1991.
Presentations & Publications:
Overcoming Obstacles to Discovery and Investigation in a Federal Criminal Case, 2014.
Ethical Challenges in the Difficult Criminal Case: Lessons from Modern Literature, 2008.
Ethical Issues in the Practice of Criminal Defense. For Oregon Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2008.
Criminal Enforcement and Regulatory Compliance for Design Professionals: Understanding and Managing the Risks, 2005.
A Healthy Practice: Preventative Measures to Keep Your Livelihood out of Intensive Care, 2005.
Litigating Special Administrative Measures in Terrorism Prosecutions, 2003.
Effective Use of Interpreters in a Criminal Case, 2002.
Affirmative Defenses in Federal Court, 2000.
Ethical Considerations in Representing Government Informants, 1999.
Federal Bail Reform Act: Detention and Preliminary Hearings, 1997.
Defense and Prosecution Ethical Obligations of Disclosure, 1997.
Oral Advocacy on Appeal, 1995.
Prosecutorial Misconduct, 1994.
Dealing with Prosecutor Misconduct, 1992.
The New Federalism: Retooling the Pretext Doctrine, 1991.
Selected Trial Court Work
In re Major Educational Health Care Organization (representation of Manager of Regulatory Compliance for major regional medical organization regarding wide-ranging federal grand jury investigation of alleged extensive health care fraud; two physician chiefs of major departments pled guilty to felony crimes; no charges filed against Peter’s client).
In re Luxury Product Importing Corporation (representation of luxury product importing business in five-year federal grand jury investigation based on allegations of pervasive violations of Customs, Commerce Department, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives regulations; case resolved by civil penalty; no criminal charges filed).
In re State University Foundation (with law partner, represented University Foundation in all aspects of the failed effort by the Foundation to construct a new urban campus for the University; the matter was long and complex, involving civil and criminal claims against the Foundation’s attorneys and University’s executives; there was a state Attorney General investigation, a Federal Grand Jury investigation, state bar investigations, and protracted civil litigation against the developer, law firms, and others. We conducted the internal investigations and represented the Foundation in more than four years of investigations, litigation, and grand jury proceedings).
United States v. Client (federal criminal prosecution for violation of Customs and export and import regulations after defendant, who was subject to a Commerce Department Export Denial Order, exported military-style goods to Macedonia; jury hung strongly in favor of acquittal; case dismissed with prejudice).
United States v. Client (federal criminal prosecution of Canadian citizen for participation in a conspiracy to smuggle marijuana across the border by helicopter; case dismissed during hearing on motion to suppress evidence after defense investigation and cross examination disclosed serious credibility issues with arresting Border Patrol agents).
State v. Client (state criminal prosecution of police officer for videotaped alleged assault of female teenager in custody at police station; two jury trials ended in hung juries; prosecution finally dismissed after second jury hung 11-1 for acquittal).
Seattle v. Client (state criminal prosecution of police officer for videotaped alleged assault of suspect during street arrest; case dismissed after prosecution expert changed his opinion during questioning by defense counsel).
Client v. T.W. (federal habeas corpus proceeding on behalf of state prisoner sentenced to death; the district court vacated the conviction and sentence because of juror misconduct; the case was eventually settled in state superior court for a sentence of life without parole).
Client v. T.W. (federal habeas corpus proceeding on behalf of state prisoner sentenced to death; this case involved eight years of discovery and evidentiary hearings in United States District Court, a personal restraint petition in the Washington Supreme Court, and three separate sets of appeals and cross-appeals in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, including a successful defense of the State’s interlocutory appeal of the district court’s discovery orders; in 1997, the district court vacated the conviction and death sentence, after which the case was settled in state superior court for a sentence of life without parole).
United States v. Client (federal criminal prosecution of Canadian citizen for transporting large amounts of marijuana across the border in specially manufactured secret compartments of defendant’s truck; case dismissed on motion of Government after defense presentation of evidence demonstrated defendant’s innocence).
Client v. D.S.H.S. (federal habeas corpus petition by insanity acquittee incarcerated at state mental hospital for twenty years; this case involved years of collateral litigation in Washington state courts, including state habeas proceedings and evidentiary hearings in superior court, two appeals to the Washington Court of Appeals, and a State’s Petition for Review to the Washington Supreme Court; in 2003, the underlying judgment was vacated and Client was released from the state hospital).
United States v. Client, et al. (federal criminal prosecution of three Russian citizens for extortion (audio-taped by the FBI) alleged to have occurred during a goodwill wrestling tour through the Northwest; all three defendants were acquitted).
United States v. Client, et al. (federal criminal prosecution of two defendants for satellite television signal piracy, where both defendants were convicted of some counts and acquitted of the others; all convictions were reversed and Peter’s client’s statements were suppressed on appeal, after which all charges against Peter’s client were dismissed).
United States v. Client (in 2000, federal district court judge modified terms of supervised release to permit Rastafarian defendant to use marijuana for religious ceremonial purposes while on federal probationary supervision after finding that imposition of any sanction for marijuana use would violate the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act).
United States v. Client (environmental research scientist charged with violating Navy base security regulations for skin diving in prohibited waters to obtain biological samples; client acquitted at trial after district court found that federal regulations failed to give adequate notice of prohibited conduct).
United States v. Client (district court granted defendant’s motion to suppress confession and physical evidence seized from defendant’s person because arrest was in violation of Fourth Amendment).
United States v. Client, 649 F. Supp. 1065 (E.D. Wash. 1986) (federal district court granted defendant’s motion to suppress evidence of methamphetamine lab seized by state law enforcement authorities under color of state search warrant; court found that violation of state law controlled and compelled suppression in this federal criminal prosecution even though application of federal search and seizure law might require a different result).
Selected Published Appellate Court Work
United States v. Client, No. CR 95-152 WD (federal criminal prosecution for manslaughter where Peter’s client handed her daughter a gun to shoot an assaultive boyfriend; Client was convicted at trial; the conviction was first affirmed on appeal by a three-judge panel, United States v. Client, 139 F.3d 748 (9th Cir. 1998), then reversed by an eleven-judge panel for failure to permit the defense counsel to introduce documentary evidence corroborating her trial testimony in United States v. Client, 169 F.3d 1210 (9th Cir. 1999) (en banc), after which the indictment was dismissed with prejudice). Peter served as appellate counsel as well as trial counsel.
United States v. Client, 189 F.3d 785 (9th Cir. 1999) (federal criminal conviction reversed for violation of federal constitutional right to venue in the district where the crime occurred). Peter served as appellate counsel as well as trial counsel.
United States v. Client, 183 F.3d 1014 (9th Cir. 1999) (federal criminal judgment and sentence vacated because application of United States Sentencing Guideline violated statute prohibiting sentencing enhancement for conviction as to which defendant’s civil rights had been restored by the state). Peter served as appellate counsel as well as trial counsel.
United States v. Client, 53 F.3d 1081 (9th Cir. 1995) (federal criminal judgment revoking supervised release and imposing sentence vacated because a juvenile sentence under the Federal Juvenile Act may not include a period of supervised release in the absence of specific statutory authorization). Peter served as appellate counsel as well as trial counsel.
United States v. Client, 963 F.2d 243 (9th Cir. 1992) (federal criminal conviction reversed; a suspect’s request for counsel made to state police also invokes his right to counsel when questioned by the FBI for a different offense). Peter served as appellate counsel as well as trial counsel.
United States v. Client, 951 F.2d 1063 (9th Cir. 1991) (federal criminal conviction reversed; a defendant is entitled to a hearing to determine whether a Speedy Trial Act dismissal should be with or without prejudice). Peter served as appellate counsel as well as trial counsel.
Client v. D., 99 Wn.2d 373, 662 P.2d 828 (1983) (order of civil commitment vacated; superior court may not revoke or modify order of commitment in absence of violation of terms of release; strict compliance with statutory requirements is required).
State v. Client, 30 Wn. App. 162, 632 P.2d 913 (1981) (state criminal conviction reversed; defendant has the right to cross-examine the complaining witness concerning her intent to file a civil action for damages against the defendant’s employer based on the facts of the alleged offense).
Of course, every case is different. These favorable results in past matters do not guarantee similar results in any other future matter.
Skellenger Bender, P.S.
520 Pike Street, Suite 1001
Seattle, WA 98101