Charles is a 1983 graduate of Fordham University at Lincoln Center with a Bachelors of Arts in Pre-Law Studies. He performed a 12 credit internship program at the United Nations during college. Additionally, he worked his way through college and law school as a waiter in various NYC restaurants. He speaks fluent Spanish, is conversant in Italian, and has a rudimentary understanding of French and Russian.
Charles received his Doctor of Law degree from Pace University School of Law (1986). He was admitted to practice law in New York State (1988) and the Federal Courts of the Eastern District of New York (1988) , the Southern District of New York (1988) , the United States Circuit Court (1990) , and the United States Supreme Court (1991).
In 2019, he received his license to practice law in the State of New Jersey. Additionally, he is licensed to practice law in the Federal District Court in New Jersey.
Over the past 33 years, Charles has represented over 6,000 clients through trials, arbitrations, mediations, or negotiations in all matters involving personal injury.
In 2021, Charles was selected to serve on the Committee on Fitness and Character of the Appellate Division, Second Department. This committee interviews law applicants to decide if they meet the criteria to obtain a license to practice law in the State of New York, as well as assessing whether disbarred or suspended attorneys are fit to return to the practice of law.
Currently, he serves as the Chairman of Law and Judiciary and Chairman of the Committee of Judicial Screening for the Democratic Party County Committee of Richmond County. In addition to serving as the Chair of County Committee and Judiciary Conventions, the committee interviews candidates for Civil Court, Family Court, and Criminal Court judgeships and reports its findings to the Executive Board of the party.
Since 2017, he has continued to serve as the Chairman of the Mayors Committee on City Marshal, the committee that reviews all prospective applicants who wish to serve as City Marshal in New York City. (Charles has been a member of the committee since 2015).
In 2020, he was elected to serve as the President of the Staten Island Trial Lawyers Association. (He is the only person to have served twice as President, having also served from 2014 through 2016).
From 2016 to 2019, he was elected by his peers to be member of the Board of Directors of the Richmond County Bar Association, founded in 1909 and representing over 500 members of the profession.
He is the Founder of the “Staten Island Trial Lawyers Summer Youth Internship Program” and the “Staten Island Trial Lawyers Award for a Distinguished Law Student.”
He continues to serve, each year, as the Chairman and Moderator of the S.I. Trial Lawyers Summer Youth Internship Program. Past Guest Speakers have included Richmond County DA Michael McMahon, Rabbi Romi Cohen (author of “The Youngest Partisan”) and Federal Judge Raymond Dearie.
The Honorable J. Gail Prudenti appointed Mr. DeStefano to serve as a member of Appellate Division, 2nd Department Advisory Committee on Pro Bono Scholars Program.
Mr. DeStefano is an active participant in “Lobby Day” sponsored by the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, a professional event in which he meets annually with state legislators in Albany to encourage legislation that protects the rights of injured persons.
His commitment to the improvement on life in Staten Island is reflected in his participation as a Board Member to Integrated Community Facilities (serving the housing needs of the disabled), The Wagner College Holocaust Center, and “La Colmena,” a Not-for-Profit organization that serves the needs of day laborers in New York City. He also served for over 8 years as a Member of the Board of Directors El Centro de Inmigrantes (The Immigrant Center).
Since 2007, he has served on the Board of Directors, Legal Advisor, and Museum Ambassador to the Jacques Marchais Tibetan Museum of Art.
He was the 2020 recipient of the Wagner College Chai Society Holocaust Center Humanitarian Award for his commitment to teaching youth about the Erosion of the Rule of Law and the Holocaust. In November 2021, he was a Guest Speaker at Wagner College on the topic of the “Nuremberg Racial Laws.”
In 2015, he was vetted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to run for Congress in New York’s 11th Congressional District.
Mr. DeStefano was appointed by the New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer to serve as a Member of the “Red Tape Commission,” a city-wide commission that focuses on streamlining regulations that affect small business formation and expansion.
He has performed extensive pro bono work for the community through Mount Carmel / Saint Benedicta Church (and formerly at Saint Mary’s Church of Port Richmond) for over 25 years, including an Annual Christmas Visit as Santa for the children of Port Richmond.
He is a recipient of the “Mount Carmel – John Bruno Award,” an honor bestowed upon members of the community for individuals who exemplify a commitment and service to the lives of children in our community.
The Italian-American Heritage Awards Society acknowledged him in as “Most Distinguished American of Italian Descent” in recognition of his honesty, integrity, and dedication to fair and ethical business practices.
“Super Lawyers of New York” in 2014 , 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 and is rated a “10” (“superb”) by AVVO.COM acknowledging his performance as an attorney. He has the highest rating on Google (“5 Stars”) which is based on reviews of members of the public.
For over 20 years, Charles DeStefano served as legal counsel to the Yacht Ventura, an historic sailing vessel that is located in North Cove Marina, Manhattan. The Yacht Ventura and other members of the Harris Fleet, proudly served as a rescue vessels on 9-11, having transported hundreds of survivors of the terrorist attacks on that day.
Charles has appeared on Court TV, New York One, and has been a frequent figure in local television news including CBS, WPIX, and NBC. In addition, his cases have been subjects of numerous articles published in the New York Times, Staten Island Advance, New York Post, Daily News, The New Yorker, and Newsday.
He is featured in two major books (and a film in production), including “I, Goldstein,” by Josh Alan Friedman and “Beneath Contempt and Happy to Be There,” by Jack Stevenson (the former featured in the New York Times Book Review). Both books focus on his efforts in applying the 1st Amendment defense in a high profile case.
He appeared prominently in a 2005 documentary film entitled “The Trials of Al Goldstein” about controversial and colorful New York City publisher, Al Goldstein. The highly acclaimed film was screened at the NY Underground Film Festival and was awarded “Fan Favorite”.
Charles was acknowledged in the 2013 book entitled “UNDISPUTED TRUTH by Mike Tyson and Larry “Ratso” Sloman. In 2017, he was further acknowledged in “IRON AMBITION” the second book by Mike Tyson and “Ratso” Sloman about the famed boxing trainer, Cus D’Amato.
Clients include Dylan McDermott, Al Goldstein, Larry “Ratso” Sloman, Gilbert Gottfried, and artist Scott Lobaido.
Last (but not least!), Charles loves to teach children about the Power of Law and the importance of the Rule of Law in our society!