He became a printer, and pursued that vocation for four years before studying law. He was admitted to the bar of the district court in Humboldt in 1866 and commenced practice at Eureka, California from 1866 to 1867. He was a District attorney of Humboldt County, California from 1867 to 1869.
He was a California state representative from 1869 to 1871 and a California state senator from 1871 to 1875.
He returned to private practice in Eureka from 1875 to 1884. He was the City attorney there from 1878 to 1880.
He was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1882 to the Forty-eighth Congress. He was a judge to the Superior Court of California from 1884 to 1889.
De Haven was elected as a Republican to the Fifty-first Congress and served from March 4, 1889, until October 1, 1890, when he resigned.
He was an Associate justice, California Supreme Court from 1891 to 1895. He returned to private practice in Eureka between 1895 and 1897. DeHaven was nominated by President William McKinley on June 1, 1897, to a seat vacated by William West. Morrow on the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
He was confirmed as a federal judge by the United States Senate on June 8, 1897, and received commission the same day and served until his death on January 26, 1913.
He died in Yountville, California and was interred in Mount Olivet Cemetery, San Francisco, California.