Firm Overview

Our firm focuses on criminal law cases in Durham, North Carolina. We have the training and experience to address the complexities of serious criminal cases.

With over forty years combined experience, our attorneys are ready to assist you wherever your criminal case may lead.

We believe that a good lawyer never stops learning. Our attorneys have spent hundreds of hours in training, both as students and instructors, learning to address complex issues in criminal law. These issues include:

Forensic Science in Criminal Cases

Evidence Issues

Race and Criminal Justice

Constitutional Rights

Jury Selection

Defensive Tactics, Firearms and Use of Force

Legislative and Case Law Developments

Legislative and Technical Developments in Probation Law

Mental Health and Criminal Justice

We study the art and science of criminal defense so we can defend our clients at the highest level.

We are members of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, as well as the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. One of our partners was awarded the Order of Service by the NCAJ in 2015.

One of our partners has been selected as a member of the North Carolina Racial Equity Network, a state-wide group of attorneys dedicated to addressing issues of racial equity through a combination of individual case work, support and mentorship of fellow indigent defenders, and collaborative efforts with court actors and criminal justice officials.


My name is Alex Charns. I am the managing partner of Charns & Donovan.

If you want a giant law firm with lots of young, inexperienced associates just out of law school, a large staff of secretaries and paralegals, you've come to the wrong place.

My family is active in our parish, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. I help coach my kids' hockey teams and play myself. I write non-fiction and fiction, and do some blogging about law and hockey.

Why do I practice criminal and police misconduct law? As a law student, late one night, I witnessed firsthand the result of a police beat-down on a lonely N.C. road surrounded by soybean fields. I drove hours to go to court for that victim of police brutality, but the judge convicted him anyway. That is something I will never forget.

I take seriously the awesome responsibility for the life and welfare of my clients that comes with being a criminal defense attorney, and work to preserve the liberties embodied in our Constitution. I hope and pray to God that I succeed in that more than I fail.

Meet me on WUNC's State of Things: What did I get after almost a decade of litigating with the FBI? The records a re archived at UNC-CH:,Alexander.html

I teamed up with John Donovan because I was impressed with his dedication to his clients, his legal knowledge and the impressive way he interacted with the folks he represents, other attorneys and judges.

He practices mainly in the areas of criminal and DWI defense.  Other lawyers call John Donovan when they have technical questions about their DWI cases. He knows that DWI cases demand a high degree of specialized knowledge. Make sure your attorney has the knowledge and experience to identify the issues in your case and to defend you with ingenuity and technical skill.

John is a member of the National College of DUI Defense, as well as the DUI Defense Lawyer's Association, and has traveled all over the country to study with the nation's finest DWI practitioners. He has also taught several continuing legal education courses on impaired driving.

DUI Badge