mike donaldson

Biography

Mike was born and raised in Temecula. Back when it was still a small town with only a single stoplight. He watched the town grow on the backs of the hardworking men and women that moved here to raise their families. Mike’s mother was a school teacher, and his father worked building fences across the Temecula Valley.
Over the years, Mike saw many people, including close friends and family, land themselves on the wrong side of the law, mostly due to substance abuse issues. From the outside looking in, the criminal justice system never seemed like it fairly or adequately helped people who Mike knew deep down were good people, but were just struggling. The government never seemed like it wanted to do anything other than put its boot on people’s necks. Once Mike got his first experience in criminal defense, it felt like the perfect fit for somebody like him with a competitive sports background, and a desire to see people treated fairly.

Mike received an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and law degree at Santa Clara University School of Law. Throughout law school, Mike worked for the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office defending people charged with misdemeanors and felonies. After law school, Mike worked at the Merced County Public Defender’s Office.

Mike came back home in 2015, and started a criminal defense practice. He later joined a small but nationally recognized DUI defense firm in Riverside, CA called Bartell, Hensel & Gressley. There, Mike got to practice with Don Bartell, perhaps the best DUI attorney California has ever had. Don passed away unexpectedly in 2022, but his spirit lives on. After Don’s passing, Lara Gressley and Mike decided to continue to carry the torch forward and started Gressley & Donaldson. Lara is one of the best DUI and appellate lawyers in the state.

Mike is a graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College (now Gerry Spence Method), a contributing author to DUI defense practice guides, a member of the California DUI Lawyers Association, the National College for DUI Defense, and has lectured lawyers across California on issues related to DUI defense. Mike is the past-president of the Southwest Riverside County Bar Association, and a part-time professor of Political Science at Mt. San Jacinto College.

Mike has been married to his beautiful wife, Kirstie, since 2015. Mike and Kirstie have been blessed with two wonderful children, Paige and Brooks, and two great dogs, Sonny and Lou. Outside of work, Mike enjoys playing baseball with his kids, gardening, traveling with family, playing pickleball, and getting his heart broken by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

awards and accolades

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dUI, criminal defense & appeals case results

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.18% DUI Dismissed – Unlawful Blood Draw

Our client was stopped by CHP. CHP called a phlebotomist to draw our client’s blood in a Jack in the Box parking lot. No kidding. His blood was drawn in the parking lot, while he stood at the hood of the patrol vehicle. After a two-day hearing on our motion to suppress evidence under Penal Code section 1538.5, the judge granted our motion and dismissed the case in its entirety.

March 2024

3rd DUI Dismissed – Illegal DUI Checkpoint

Our client was charged with a 3rd offense DUI after being stopped at a DUI checkpoint. Our office filed a motion to suppress evidence under Penal Code section 1538.5, challenging the legality of the DUI checkpoint. The judge ruled in our favor, finding that the checkpoint was illegal, and dismissed the DUI charges outright.

March 2024

.19% 2nd Offense DUI for Class A Commercial Driver Dismissed

Our client, a Class A commercial driver’s license holder, was charged with a 2nd offense DUI resulting from a traffic stop. His BAC results were .19%/.19%. Because a conviction would have resulted in a lifetime revocation of his commercial driver’s license, we had to take the matter to trial. On the day of trial, the DUI charges were dismissed in exchange for a plea to reckless driving, which saved the client’s Class A commercial driver’s license from any suspension.

January 2024

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