Chris concentrates in criminal defense in federal and state courts. Chris concentrates on defending clients accused of white collar crimes, street crimes, sex offenses and capital murder in the South and around the country. Since launching his private practice in 2007, Chris has represented clients in serious matters from Las Vegas to New York City to San Juan, Puerto Rico. However, the bulk of his practice is fighting for men and women accused of crimes in and around South Carolina.
Prior to opening his own practice, Chris spent 15 years as a public defender or non-profit lawyer. Chris began his career in Charleston, S.C., and he and his family returned in 2010 after spending a decade in Atlanta.
The son of a two teachers, Chris grew up in Carrollton, Georgia. After graduating from his hometown college, he earned his law degree from Georgetown University in 1992. Chris spent the next eight years as a public defender in Charleston, successfully defending clients against a wide array of criminal charges, from driving offenses to capital murder.
Chris is recognized by his peers for his excellence as a criminal defense lawyer. Chris is the Secretary of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He was selected by Superlawyers in 2016 for Criminal Defense in South Carolina and has achieved an Aavo of 10.0.
In 2000, Chris joined the Southern Center for Human Rights, a nationally acclaimed non-profit law office in Atlanta that defends people facing the death penalty throughout the Deep South. Working with committed and talented defense teams, Chris won a series of impressive results in very difficult cases -- an acquittal for death row inmate Gary Drinkard, a DNA exoneration for Douglas Echols, an acquittal for Albert Joe Ryans, and a lesser conviction and sentence for death row inmate Levi Pace.
Chris accepted the appointment to become the founding director of the Georgia Capital Defender, the state agency charged with defending indigent men and women facing the death penalty at trial and on appeal. During his tenure (2004-2007), the office accomplished amazing results for its clients, resolving 40 cases without a single client being sentenced to death, including a unanimous life verdict in a double murder case that Chris tried in Brunswick, Georgia. However, the State of Georgia responded by cutting funding so low that it undermined the clients’ constitutional right to effective representation. After being prohibited by the State of Georgia from litigating the issue in court, Chris resigned over the principle of effective representation for all defendants facing the death penalty, which was covered in the New York Times.
He is a sought after speaker on criminal defense topics ranging from courtroom advocacy, forensics, criminal law, and ethics, having given more than 100 presentations to professional organizations and bar associations in more than thirty states. He is on the faculty of the National Criminal Defense College where he teaches fellow criminal defense lawyers and learns from them in the process. He has served as an adjunct professor of law at Emory University, Georgia State University, and the Charleston School of Law, teaching courses and clinics on capital punishment and criminal procedure.
As part of his commitment to giving his best for his clients, Chris enrolled in a two-year masters program in oral storytelling from East Tennessee State University. Chris graduated in 2016.
With his experience and passion for justice, Chris will continue to protect the liberty and reputation of his clients by working tirelessly to win the most favorable verdict possible.
Chris Geel is an attorney focusing his practice on criminal trials and appeals. Since joining the Law Office of Christopher W. Adams, Chris has represented clients in state and federal courts in Charleston and throughout the state of South Carolina, as well as on direct appeal before South Carolina’s appellate courts and in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Before joining the Law Office of Christopher W. Adams, Chris Geel served as a trial attorney in the Charleston County Public Defender Office. In his last jury trial as a public defender, Chris won an acquittal in a murder prosecution in the Charleston County General Sessions Court by showing that his client acted in self-defense. During his time with the public defender, Chris handled hundreds of criminal cases in General Sessions (felony) court, earning dismissals of dozens of serious charges on behalf of his clients, ranging from drug possession to armed robbery.
After finishing law school, Chris began the practice of law in Atlanta by writing motions and appeals for many of the top criminal lawyers in Georgia. Chris later joined the Appellate Division of the Georgia Public Defender Council, where he represented clients on appeal and in post-conviction relief before the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Georgia. His appellate work led to the reversal of several of his clients’ convictions, for charges ranging from Stalking and DUI to Aggravated Assault and Murder. (See representative cases below).
A native of Plainsboro, New Jersey, Chris received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University (honor graduate with a double major in Economics and Political Science). He moved to Atlanta for law school and earned his J.D. from Emory University in 2009. He was the recipient of the Emory’s Pro Bono Award.
After practicing law in Atlanta for four years, Chris and his family moved to Charleston, South Carolina. Chris lives in Mount Pleasant with his wife and their baby daughter. He enjoys reading, going to the beach, and playing chess.
South Carolina, Georgia.
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers,
South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
• USA v. Qazah: Working with Chris Adams in a white-collar appeal out of Charlotte, NC, won a new sentencing from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in a cigarette theft and money laundering conspiracy case. The appellate court found that the trial court erred in calculating the loss amount and remanded the case for a new sentencing. USA v. Qazah, 810 F.3d 879 (4th Cir. 2015).
• Fripp v. State: won reversal of his client’s double-murder convictions due to improper conduct by the trial judge. In that case, the trial judge refused to remove himself from the case, despite evidence of a conflict of interest between the judge and the prosecutor’s office. The Supreme Court agreed that this was reversible error, and reversed Chris’ client’s convictions for murder, armed robbery, and related charges. 779 S.E.2d 624 (2015)
• Autry v. State: won reversal of his client's stalking conviction. The Court agreed that the State had failed to present sufficient evidence at trial to sustain a conviction. Because Chris prevailed on this argument, the client could not be tried again on the charges. 701 S.E.2d 596 (2011)
• Wagner v. State: won reversal of his client’s DUI conviction due to an improper burden-shifting jury instruction. Chris also represented the client when the case was sent back for re-trial, and was able to negotiate a reduction to a minor traffic violation. The DUI charge was dropped. 716 S.E.2d 633 (2011)
• Culbreath v. State: won reversal of client’s aggravated assault conviction in the Court of Appeals. Court of Appeals agreed that the trial court failed to properly consider his client’s motion for speedy trial. 761 S.E.2d 557 (2014)
• Wiggins v. State: Working with Lawrence Zimmerman (Atlanta, GA), won an illegal search case in the Court of Appeals. Chris and Lawrence argued that the trial court improperly denied a pre-trial motion to suppress. The client had been illegally detained and searched near his home as a result of an anonymous tip that an officer had received. Based on the illegal search, officers obtained a search warrant, and were able to search the client’s home. The Court of Appeals agreed that this violated the client’s Fourth Amendment rights, and reversed the lower court’s ruling. 771 S.E.2d 135 (2015)
• State v. BH: won acquittal for client in murder trial in Charleston, South Carolina. Chris’ client was charged with murder and several related counts. The client shot and killed an intruder on the porch of his home, but was charged with murder. Chris showed that his client acted in self-defense. After a five-day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict of not-guilty on all charges. 2014A1010202435