Wilson & Clas: Criminal Defenders Safeguarding Minnesotans’ Future

When facing serious criminal charges, there is no substitute for a legal advocate who is responsive, innovative and won’t back down from a fight. Attorneys Andrew C. Wilson and Charles S. Clas, Jr. founded their boutique criminal defense firm with a vision of providing smart, aggressive advocacy against an array of criminal allegations. In just two years, they have produced phenomenal results, successfully defending their clients. With a focus on criminal defense, Title IX defense and appellate litigation, the firm delivers bespoke solutions to the most serious criminal issues.

Wilson is a Minnesota native who awakened to his legal calling in middle school. “I never wanted to sue for money or fight over custody or property in a divorce,” he says. “I always liked the idea of fighting for the underdog, people with less resources who are up against the government.”

After serving as an Americorps volunteer, Wilson went on to William Mitchell College of Law, where he won his first jury trial prior to graduating magna cum laude. He made his mark before the Minnesota Supreme Court during his first year of practice and has continued a robust appellate practice with repeated appearances at the Minnesota Supreme Court, the Minnesota Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

I always liked the idea of fighting for the underdog, people with less resources who are up against the government.

Charlie Clas
Charlie Clas

Clas’s acceptance to the University of Minnesota Law School brought him from New York to the Twin Cities, where he quickly found himself at home. “My first internship was in criminal law, and I knew from that day on, it’s what I wanted to do,” he recalls.

Clas has proven himself a persuasive criminal defense litigator with numerous victories against state and federal criminal charges, from petty misdemeanor charges to serious felonies. In addition to handling criminal defense matters throughout Minnesota, Clas defends clients against harassment restraining orders, including orders for protection and domestic abuse no-contact orders, as well as Title IX defense cases involving allegations of misconduct at a college or university.

The collaborative relationship between Wilson and Clas evolved during the pandemic, when the two were, according to Wilson, “part of each other’s COVID bubble.” With a friendship based upon mutual trust and shared ideals, the duo decided the next logical step would be to open a law firm together.

“The vision came from the fact that we both had experience practicing at big criminal defense firms,” Clas says. “We both learned what we really liked as attorneys, what worked for us and what didn’t. At our firm, we are still able to provide the exact same level of service we provided at the bigger firms, but our small operation offers very tailored service to everyone who comes through the door. Our representation isn’t less, it’s just different. What we offer works for our clients and for us as attorneys.”

“We handle everything defense-related and everything the big firms do,” Wilson adds. “In fact, we are handling several homicide cases now. But one thing that makes us different is that we’re very collaborative in the way we work. The firm represents you — it’s not just that Andrew or Charlie is your attorney. We are up to speed on each other’s cases and issues, and clients are familiar with both of us. We litigate cases and handle appeals together, and we both sign on a lot of our filings.”

In a marked departure from the norm, the firm is without an office phone number. Instead, callers connect directly to the attorneys themselves via their personal cell phones. “One of the big concerns with attorneys is that they take your money and don’t really communicate with you to tell you what’s going on with your case,” Wilson says. “When you call our firm, you are literally calling one of our phones. Since clients have our cell numbers, they can also text us anytime. We have support staff, but we believe in having direct communication with our clients. It was one of the focal points when we started. We wanted to differentiate ourselves in this way. We want our clients to know that it’s us they’re paying and us they’re working with.”

Both Wilson and Clas honed their legal skills working alongside top defense litigators on highly contentious and widely publicized cases. As a result, they are methodical litigators who strive to strategically dispose of pretrial issues, clearing the way for victories at trial. 

Andrew Wilson
Andrew Wilson

To demonstrate, Clas recently secured a pre-trial dismissal of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder and second-degree intentional murder for a client in Stearns County. He then obtained jury verdicts of “not guilty” on the two remaining charges, aiding and abetting first-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Wilson comments on the strategy behind Clas’ results. “Charlie’s strategy going into it ultimately forced the prosecutor to thin down his case to just a handful of witnesses, which put Charlie in a great position to argue that the lack of evidence was not sufficient to establish that his client committed the crime.”

On a more personal note, Wilson adds, “The client didn’t own a suit and didn’t have the money to buy one. Charlie gave him a suit for trial and told him, ‘If we win, you can keep the suit.’ And he did.”

That kind of human connection and tailored attention to the individual distinguishes the client experience at Wilson & Clas. “We’re very dedicated to our clients, and when they trust us with their case, we take it seriously,” Wilson says. “Depending on the case, our job may be to tell their story to work out the appropriate repercussions for their actions. Making the system more equitable is of real interest to us. So many of the people we work with are disadvantaged by mental illness, chemical dependency, financial stress and abuse. We’re also very transparent about billing, and we do a decent amount of sliding scale representation. Since we’re streamlined, it allows us to charge less.”

Wilson and Clas are securing justice for current and future Minnesotans with significant appellate victories. In 2022, Wilson obtained a reversal and vacation of a client’s felony assault conviction by a jury. After filing for a direct appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the prosecutor’s office agreed that it had convicted the accused without sufficient evidence of guilt and that the conviction should be overturned in its entirety. Also in 2022, Wilson obtained two more reversals/remands at the Minnesota Court of Appeals, argued against the imposition of mandatory life sentences for youthful offenders at the Minnesota Supreme Court, and overturned a Title IX finding of responsibility on appeal at a local private university.

Wilson, who has been to the Minnesota Supreme Court three times in the past six years, says there is something alluring about “disproving a case and pulling things apart. The clients are interesting, and the stories are interesting. Reviewing a case for appeal requires significant time, energy and research to determine what, if anything, went wrong, and then convince the judges that the story is as important and thrilling as you think it is.”

A true boutique firm, Wilson & Clas maintains a strict focus on criminal defense matters. Its paperless, tech-enabled and flexible business model is highly efficient and attracts dynamic young talent. This combination of assets means that Wilson and Clas can handle larger caseloads while sustaining high-touch service.

“We never want to lose sight of that,” Wilson says. “It’s the whole point of why we founded our firm. We are a small shop tailored to individual client needs instead of being a machine. We like knowing who’s coming in our door and providing them with expert-level representation, without exception.”

At a Glance

Wilson & Clas
201 Sixth Street SE Suite 210
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Andrew Wilson
(612) 910-2104
[email protected]

Charlie Clas
(612) 760-4048
[email protected]

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