Attorney Donald J. Kilfin was born in Ontario, Canada. Since childhood, his professional ambition was to become a seasoned criminal trial lawyer. Recognizing that superior communication skills, both oral and written, are an integral component of effective legal representation, he began taking elective courses as early as high school to hone and develop those skills.
In 1992, Mr. Kilfin was accepted to Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, one of Canada's top undergraduate institutions. For the next four years, he continued to focus his studies on politics, history, and English – courses that emphasized reading and analyzing large amounts of complex information and preparing well organized, scholarly treatises on topics relevant to each course respectively. He graduated from Trent in 1996 with a four-year Honors Bachelor's degree in political science, with an emphasis on international relations theory.
Upon graduation, Mr. Kilfin moved to Peachtree City, Georgia, where his parents and siblings had settled two years prior. He immediately began the process of selecting prospective law schools from across the United States, including Michigan, Washington D.C., California, Georgia, and Florida. His first choice, among dozens of reputable law schools, was Stetson University College of Law based on its geographic location, stunning architecture, and national reputation for trial advocacy programs. In the summer of 1997, Mr. Kilfin was accepted and, three months later, began the long and challenging process of learning his craft.
For the next three years, he studied all facets of the law, with a particular emphasis on criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence and trial advocacy. With a hopeful eye toward employment with the Pinellas County State Attorney's Office upon graduation, Mr. Kilfin made application to Stetson's prosecution clinic just prior to his last semester. He was accepted and, as an intern, began working along side several talented young prosecutors in conducting legal research, preparing and arguing motions, trying cases, and preparing appellate briefs. In May of 2000, Mr. Kilfin graduated with a Juris Doctor degree. He was published in the 2000 editions of Who's Who Among American Law Students and The National Dean's List based on his academic achievements at Stetson.
Prior to commencement, he was contacted by Pinellas County's Chief Assistant State Attorney and offered a position as a misdemeanor prosecutor. Upon a successful initial attempt, Mr. Kilfin passed the Florida Bar exam and began his six-year career as a Pinellas County state prosecutor. Just after his first year with the office, he was promoted to lead trial attorney in one of Pinellas' misdemeanor divisions and, after eighteen months, was promoted again to one of its felony divisions. In his capacity as an assistant state attorney, Mr. Kilfin handled thousands of criminal cases, which ranged in severity from minor traffic infractions to first-degree murder. He conducted over sixty jury trials to verdict, including first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, capital sexual battery, drug trafficking, arson, burglary, and armed robbery.
In 2008, after working for nearly two years in a St. Petersburg area civil firm, Mr. Kilfin associated with a close friend and former prosecutor to form one of Pinellas County's most successful and well-respected criminal defense firms. For the next five years, he represented dozens of clients throughout the Tampa Bay area in an array of criminal matters, including assault, battery, domestic violence cases, drug trafficking, firearms offenses, and murder. As a partner with the firm, Mr. Kilfin's responsibilities included interviewing prospective clients, overseeing the preparation and filing of all initial pleadings, engaging in plea negotiations, oral and written, both before and after formal charges were filed, preparing and arguing defensive motions, including motions to dismiss and motions to suppress, trying cases before judges and juries, engaging in appellate proceedings, and maintaining regular, consistent contact with each client to ensure that he or she was updated on the progress of his or her case. Mr. Kilfin was published in Super Lawyers Rising Stars and The National Trial Lawyers Top 100.
In 2012, Mr. Kilfin passed The Georgia Bar Exam, also on his first attempt, and was sworn in as a licensed Georgia Attorney in June of 2012. He is admitted to practice in the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Georgia.
In April of 2013, Mr. Kilfin launched The Kilfin Law Firm, P.C., a full service DUI and criminal defense firm. We are conveniently located between Tampa and St. Petersburg in the Carillon business district off Interstate 275 at Ulmerton Road. Over the past five years, Mr. Kilfin has represented nearly four hundred clients throughout the courtrooms of Tampa Bay, in both state and federal court. These matters have ranged from misdemeanor DUI to drug trafficking and attempted murder. Because the firm has grown exponentially since its beginnings, Mr. Kilfin concentrates his criminal defense practice to matters arising in the St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Tampa areas, but will accept cases in Pasco and Manatee Counties on a selective basis.
At The Kilfin Law Firm, P.C., each client is thoroughly interviewed during the initial consultation to better understand his or her personal history, the nature of the allegations, and to assess the array of potential mitigators that can be used to lessen the severity of the charges and, in some instances, avoid the filing of formal charges altogether. During the initial consultation, Mr. Kilfin will make a number of assessments based on the nature of the case. He will assess the possibility of formal charges being declined by the prosecutor, and what needs to be done to enhance the prospect of that occurring. If formal charges will be brought, Mr. Kilfin will seek to determine the client's eligibility for a diversion program, the withholding of adjudication of guilt (where diversion is not an option), whether the person scores prison on Florida's sentencing guidelines and what can be done at the outset to avoid it, the applicability of any minimum mandatory sentences (which typically apply drug and firearms cases), any potential collateral consequences of a plea or conviction (such as loss of the client's privilege to drive or deportation), whether the record can be sealed or expunged, and the viability of a trial. Often times, effective criminal defense begins with a meaningful offensive approach. Much can be accomplished during the early stages of a criminal case and, for that reason, "frontloading" the work has always been an integral part of Mr. Kilfin's approach.
As a former Pinellas County state prosecutor, Mr. Kilfin has an intimate understanding of the inner workings of the state attorney's office in terms of how cases are investigated, referred, and prosecuted. More significantly, Mr. Kilfin knows where to look for potential weaknesses in a given case that can often be leveraged to the client's benefit. Having practiced criminal law on both sides of the courtroom for an aggregate twenty years, Mr. Kilfin had developed long standing personal relationships with some of the areas most renowned experts and treatment providers, including chemists, psychologists, and addiction specialists.
As of 2018, Mr. Kilfin serves on the Board of Directors at "Empowered to Change", a sober living non-profit in Pinellas County that provides housing and other critical services to people suffering from addiction and homelessness, to victims of human trafficking, and to those enduring other adverse life circumstances. Many of Mr. Kilfin's clients charged with drug and alcohol related offenses have benefitted tremendously from this comprehensive, seven month program which also includes employment counseling, financial coaching, and other necessary life skills. Mr. Kilfin has dedicated his practice to helping good people through difficult situations (the firm's slogan) and the owners of Empowered to Change have, in many ways, done the same.
As his current and former clients will attest, Mr. Kilfin is in the office seven days a week. He is always available to discuss the client's case, answer questions, and alleviate concerns. Every client has his personal cell phone number and he will respond to inquiries in the evening, early morning hours, and over the weekend. Holidays are no exception. As a client of The Kilfin Law Firm, P.C., when you call, you will speak directly to Mr. Kilfin every time. There is no legal assistant or "middle man" fielding calls, answering questions, or relaying information on Mr. Kilfin's behalf. Effective communication between the attorney and the client is a critical component of that relationship and to the overall provision of zealous legal representation. Further, it is Mr. Kilfin exclusively that will work on your case from start to finish; every letter, every pleading, every phone call made on your behalf, and every court appearance will be handled by Mr. Kilfin himself.
The basic philosophy at The Kilfin Law Firm, P.C. is simple: there is no substitute for persistence, tenacity, and hard work. The provision of competent, effective legal representation to his clients is his top priority.
Specific areas of practice include, but are not limited to, the following: