Luke Z. Fenchel is a local lawyer serving the greater Ithaca area, Tompkins County, & Finger Lakes region with a strategic focus on legal problem-solving, crisis management, and criminal defense.

He serves a diverse clientele of professionals, families of college students, and other Ithacans, using experience, knowledge, education, creativity, and technology to provide them with the most effective and efficient defense.

Luke aims to provide comprehensive legal advice as well as compassionate and relentless advocacy to obtain the best possible outcome for each case accepted—whether it be dismissal, reduction, or seal. 

Are you facing a misdemeanor or felony matter in Ithaca, Tompkins County, or the Finger Lakes region, or have you been accused of an on-campus disciplinary matter? Attorney Fenchel has successfully handled hundreds of criminal cases in the past five years—everything from the highest-level A-II felonies to common traffic violations. 


Luke managed the criminal defense practice while at Holmberg Galbraith (formerly Holmberg, Galbraith, Van Houten & Miller). In December 2015 Fenchel formed his own legal practice devoted exclusively to criminal defense.

Luke graduated from Harvard College and Cornell Law School. He lectures in the legal studies department at Ithaca College, where he has also served as an on-campus advisor to students facing disciplinary proceedings (Luke regularly serves in similar roles at Cornell University and at Tompkins Cortland Community College).

Luke is on the Board of Directors of the Tompkins County Bar Association, and is a member of the New York State Bar Association, and New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Ithaca Times, Best of Ithaca Award, Best Attorney, 2016 • Ithaca Journal, Reader’s Choice Award, Law Firm, 2015 • Ithaca Times, Best of Ithaca, First Runner-Up, 2014.


Practice Areas: Comprehensive advocacy and defense.

Talk to our clients. They will tell you that Luke and the Fenchel Defense Firm gave them the skilled defense they needed. We put clients first. We care about you, and we care about the effect your case has on your family and your life. Luke provides you with a free initial consultation. He listens closely to your needs, returns your phone calls promptly, and takes time to explain each development in your case. Whether in court or behind the scenes with judges, prosecutors and police, Luke and the Fenchel Defense Firm use experience and persistence to fight hard for you. You may have been charged with a crime, but that does not mean you are guilty. We understand the difference and we are on your side.

 Who you hire can make all the difference.

Who you hire can make all the difference.

 Representing students charged with on-campus violations at Ithaca College, Cornell University and other area schools.

Representing students charged with on-campus violations at Ithaca College, Cornell University and other area schools.

 Beat the charge, keep your license, and avoid a criminal record.

Beat the charge, keep your license, and avoid a criminal record.

Felony or Misdemeanor Criminal Charges: Representing People, Not Cases

Fenchel practices throughout upstate New York, and has built respected and respectful relationships with the prosecutors, judges, court clerks, probation officers, and law-enforcement officials who form the legal landscape in upstate New York. He has defended friends and family members of judges, clerks, sheriff deputies, probation and police officers, as well as other governmental employees.

A familiar face in Ithaca City and Ithaca Town Court, Fenchel also regularly appears in the town courts of Dryden and Lansing, as well as those of Caroline, Danby, Enfield, Groton, Newfield, and Ulysses, and the Village Courts of Cayuga Heights and Freeville. 

Fenchel has successfully defended misdemeanor and felony matters in the neighboring counties of Cortland, Chemung, Seneca, Cayuga, Schuyler, and Tioga Counties. 

Recent Cases:

  • People v. J.A. Case: Client was charged with stealing two air conditioning units from Walmart. Result: Dismissed, faulty identification.
  • People v. R.C. Case: Client was charged with an A-II Felony, allegedly manufacturing methamphetamine. Result: Client testified at Grand Jury who voted a "no bill", resulting in the dismissal of the case.
  • People v. C.N. Case: Client was charged with stealing more than a thousand dollars from her employer. Result: Dismissed.
  • People v. B.S. Case: Client was charged with A-II Felony, allegedly manufacturing methamphetamine. Result: admission to felony drug treatment court with a contract that would result in a dismissal of charge upon successful completion. 
  • ‘Goes out of his way’

    Luke Fenchel is a beast of a lawyer. He got me out of a real jam – I had three felony charges as well as five misdemeanors – with a very desirable outcome. I would highly recommend Mr. Fenchel for any legal defense matter that happens to come up. He is a good-spirited, very intelligent individual who goes out of his way to help clients even when it is inconvenient.

    — D.L.

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

  • ‘I now have zero criminal record’

    Working with Luke was the best decision I have ever made. I was facing a class C felony and Luke was able to navigate me through this nightmare and we were able to have the charges reduced to a misdemeanor and a violation. In the end he was able to show that I was not a criminal and using his guidance and expertise was able to have my charges dropped and I paid a $200 fine for a violation. I now have zero criminal record, which has afforded me the opportunity to obtain a great job with a corporation. I would never have had this chance if it weren't for Luke. I would highly recommend him in any circumstance.

    — B.K.

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

  • ‘An amazing resource’

    My friend referred Luke to me with an excellent review. and ever since I contacted him he put my nerves at ease. I found him to be extremely responsive, pro-active, knowledgeable, and clear. I appreciate how much he cares for his clients, makes time to know not just the situation, but also them. He is clearly passionate about what he does, and it shows through in his results. He is an amazing resource for legal counsel and as a defense lawyer is one I would trust to obtain the best possible outcome.

    — I.S.

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

On-Campus Judicial Proceedings: A Student-Centered Approach

Luke regularly represents college and university students charged with on-campus violations at Ithaca College, where he has been an adjunct lecturer in Legal Studies since 2011, as well as at Cornell University, Tompkins Cortland Community College, and other schools in the region. He has served as an on-campus counselor and advocate in cases in which charges were dismissed at the Ithaca College Conduct Review Board, has worked on cases before the University Hearing Board at Cornell University, as well as successfully negotiated medical and non-disciplinary withdrawals from both campuses. 

Recent Cases:

People v. J.B. Case: At Cornell University, client was charged with selling controlled substances to students, undercover officers. Judicial Administrator sought to expel or suspend. Result: University Hearing Board ordered counseling, alcohol and drug treatment, community service, a reflection paper, and deferred suspension as long as client moved off campus (client continues to be an active enrolled student).

People v. A.L. Case: At Ithaca College, client was charged possession of controlled substances. Result: Client testified at Conduct Review Board, who held "not responsible" (not guilty) of alleged violation.

People v. N.S. Case: Hazing at Cornell. Result: Finding of "Not Responsible".

  • ‘Sharp, courteous, respectful, brilliant’

    I retained Luke for a Title IX defense at a local college. At every turn, he was quick to call out any procedural violation done by the school. He continually put pressure on administrators to follow their own code of conduct. As part of his work, he brilliantly documented a paper trail of correspondence from Administrators that displayed their unwillingness to comply with their own rules and regulations. I recommend him without reservation. He is sharp, courteous, respectful, brilliant and has given me a chance to preserve my future.

    — Anonymous

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

  • 'I couldn't recommend Luke more'

    Luke came to our aid when my son was facing serious charges at Ithaca College. The school wanted to expel him (it wasn't his first on-campus offense) and the case seemed bleak because the police witnessed the supposed violation. But we called Luke because he had helped advise and guide us with IC's rules and procedures for my son's earlier violation. This time, we went to a Conduct Review Board Hearing, and my son was found not responsible (not guilty). If you or your child are facing a violation of the IC Code of Conduct, I couldn't recommend Luke more.

    — S.L.

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

  • 'A consummate professional'

    Luke came highly recommended by a dear friend for his legal expertise in the area and his flexibility to work around his clients' needs. I was pleased to find these recommendations to be true and fully justified: Luke is a consummate professional and has a very genuine personal care for his clients. Luke unsolicitedly put it upon himself to do whatever he could to actualize the best possible result given the situation. By following Luke's advice, I was able to avoid all possible charges in my case. He is extremely knowledgeable, and his gifted ability to put things into perspective made it extremely easy and pleasurable to work with him. Luke made himself available for a consultation within an hour of calling him; he is invaluably flexible and eager to adapt to each client's scenario however he can. Luke's dedication to service and professionalism makes it highly worthwhile to call him for his services in Central New York.

    — Z.F.

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Driving While Intoxicated "DWI" (BAC, Refusal, Drugs)

Luke cut his teeth on defending clients charged with drinking and driving related offenses (misdemeanor and felony driving while intoxicated—DWI—as well as misdemeanor driving while ability impaired by drugs—DWAI—crimes). His practice includes violations of conditional discharge and probation, as well as litigation involving the removal of ignition interlock devices. Luke also regularly represents individuals at Department of Motor Vehicle Refusal Hearings.

Recent Cases:

People v. L.M. Case: Client was charged §V&T 1192(2),(3)(driving while intoxicated misdemeanors). Result: Client pled to speed in full satisfaction (Tompkins County).

People v. M.R. Case: Client was charged with felony driving while intoxicated, and felony driving while ability impaired. Result: Client pled to V&T §1212 Reckless Driving in full satisfaction (Seneca County).

People v. S.D. Case: Client was charged misdemeanor driving while intoxicated V&T §1192(2),(3), as a result of a two-car accident. Result: Client was admitted to treatment court with contract to dismiss case upon successful completion (Tioga County).

People v. W.P. Case: Non-citizen was charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated V&T §1192(2),(3). Result: Client pled to non-criminal violation-level traffic offense V&T §1192(1), with a Conditional Discharge, Fine, and Surcharge (Cayuga County).

People v. J.B. Case: Client's third alcohol-related offense in six (6) years, charged with felony driving while intoxicated, BAC 0.15. Result: Interim Probation Supervision with ability to withdraw plea (Chemung County).

People v. D.M. Case: Client's fifth alcohol-related offense, charged with felony driving while intoxicated. Result: Client was admitted to treatment court with contract to withdraw felony plea, and to substitute V&T §1212 Reckless Driving in full satisfaction upon successful completion of treatment court (Cortland County).

People v. C.R. Case: Client was charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated V&T §1192(2),(3)(BAC: 0.15). Result: Client pled to non-criminal violation-level traffic offense V&T §1192(1), with a Conditional Discharge, Fine, and Surcharge (Ithaca Town Court, Tompkins County).

People v. B.W. Case: Client was charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated V&T §1192(2),(3) as a result of a car accident (BAC: 0.15). Result: Client pled to misdemeanor driving while intoxicated V&T §1192(3), with no jail sanction (Dryden Town Court, Judge Clauson, Tompkins County). 

  • ‘The best lawyer in the area’

    I was charged with DUI and had a lot of specific issues with my case. I consulted with who was said to be the best DUI lawyer in town by several people, before speaking with Luke. He then told me what I could expect and said he could guarantee me a reduction to a certain other crime. Then I met Luke. Luke got me a MUCH better deal than the best DUI guy in town. I honestly think Luke is the best lawyer in the area.

    — Anonymous

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

  • 'Kept me working'

    Luke helped me serve no jail and or probation on a misdemeanor DWI – just got a fine – even though I had two prior felonies and had done state time. Luke keep me working and did it all while working with my financial situation. The other lawyer I talked to wouldn't even see me without cash payment. If you have a DWI in Elmira and need help, call Luke.

    — R.M.

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

  • 'I recommend him to anyone'

    Luke represented me on my first and only DWI in Ithaca City Court. I told him my goals and was honest, and he told me he would do his best to get the results without promising. The probation dept. and the DA wanted to sentence me to probation, but Luke argued successfully for a CD. Then, when I was violated for my ignition interlock, he took my case twice, and we won twice (both times I was restored to my CD).

    — S.A.

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

 

About Luke Z. Fenchel

EDUCATION

  • A.B., High Honors, Harvard College, 1999
  • J.D., Cornell Law School, 2005

CERTIFICATIONS

  • Admitted to the Bar: New York State, U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York

    RELATED EXPERIENCE

    • Lecturer, Legal Studies, Ithaca College, 2011-present

      Awards

      • Ithaca Times, Best of Ithaca Award, Best Attorney, 2016
      • Ithaca Journal, Reader’s Choice Award, Law Firm, 2015
      • Ithaca Times, Best of Ithaca, First Runner-Up, 2014

      ASSOCIATIONS

      • Tompkins County Bar Association
      • New York State Bar Association
      • New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
      • National College for DUI Defense