Carlos Hopkins, Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs
Carlos Hopkins currently serves as Virginia’s Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, the state’s top official for coordinating state and federal resources to support Virginia’s veteran community and liaison with federal defense facilities. Former Governor Terence R. McAuliffe appointed him Secretary on September 1, 2017, following Hopkins’ service over the previous 3 years as Counsel to the Governor where he advised the Governor on the impact current federal and state law might have on the Governor’s policy proposals. Governor Ralph S. Northam reappointed him to a new four-year term.
Carlos was born in Columbia, SC and is a graduate of The Citadel in Charleston, SC, where he graduated with a degree in political science with a concentration in law and criminal justice. He received his law degree from the University Of Richmond School Of Law and is licensed by the Virginia State Bar.
Carlos began his legal career at a small firm in the City of Richmond handling insurance defense cases and federal court appointed matters. He left private practice to join the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. Carlos served seven years as a prosecutor in the City of Richmond where, as a Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney he supervised the office’s narcotics and Project Exile prosecutions, working closely with his federal and state counterparts to stem the flow of drugs and illegal firearms in the City. As the Deputy in charge of the office’s Manchester Courthouse Division, he supervised the prosecution of all cases occurring within the City of Richmond south of the James River. He also prosecuted a broad range of felonies including capital murder, rape and numerous drug and firearm offenses.
After a brief stint managing a solo practice, Carlos returned to the public sector when he was asked to serve as the Training Director for the newly restructured Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, the state agency that manages Virginia’s public defender system. The agency also determines the eligibility criteria for court appointed counsel-those attorneys who provide a legal defense for indigent persons accused of crimes that carry a potential penalty of incarceration or death.
In 2013, Carlos joined the Richmond City Attorney’s office after operating his own solo practice the previous two years. As a Deputy City Attorney, his practice areas focused on tax assessment and eminent domain litigation as well as public safety. He was instrumental in bringing together members of the administration and Council staff to address the issues surrounding the reclamation of derelict properties in the City. After Governor McAuliffe was elected to be Virginia’s next governor, Carlos was then tapped to be the Governor’s Counsel in January 2014.
In addition to his civilian legal experiences, Carlos currently serves as the Staff Judge Advocate for the 29th Infantry Division at Fort Belvoir. He has over 27 years of service in the Reserve and Guard forces of the United States as a Judge Advocate and former enlisted Soldier and, from July 2008-July 2009, he deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where he served as the Chief of Military Justice as part of Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
Carlos is an avid golfer and runner and has a son, Isaiah, whom he hopes to convince to attend The Citadel one day.