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Florida cracks down on hit and run drivers

By Jeff Patterson, WFLA-TV, November 9th, 2015

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – The Tampa Bay area has recently seen a number of serious hit and run deaths. Two Illinois tourists were killed in Clearwater on October 18. Police have now arrested Charles Winzenread in connection with the crime.

Alexander Torres, 11, was killed in Tampa Saturday night in another hit and run crash. Authorities are offering a reward to find the driver involved in that crash.

A 33-year-old construction worker was seriously injured in another hit and run crash in Hillsborough County on Friday. Authorities have arrested Edwin Rodriguez in connection with the case.

Defense attorney Kevin Hayslett says many people leave the scene of an accident out of panic and a variety of other reasons. “People just get nervous and overwhelmed with anxiety and they panic, the car is stolen, they have a suspended license, they’re intoxicated, or think they are intoxicated, they’ve got drugs in the car,” said Hayslett.

Now because of changes in Florida’s hit and run laws, drivers who do leave the scene of an accident involving death or serious injury face up to 30 years in prison.

“You leave the scene and all of a sudden it goes from nothing, or maybe a traffic ticket to a first-degree felony with mandatory license suspension and mandatory state prison sentence,” said Hayslett. At one time, that wasn’t the case.

Drivers involved in deadly hit and runs could leave, go home and sleep off the effects of alcohol and face few consequences if they were caught. “It used to be that they were entitled to withholding of adjudication, which means no felony conviction and no incarceration,” said Hayslett.

The Florida legislature has moved recently to end that loophole. “They’ve now made it that leaving the scene of an accident involving death is a first-degree felony and your exposure, the amount of time you can face in prison is actually greater for leaving the scene of an accident involving death than it is currently for a DUI Manslaughter,” said Hayslett.

 

Autopsy on body believed to be Janiya Thomas inconclusive

By Laurie Davison, Bay News 9, October 21, 2015

The autopsy on a child's body found in a freezer Sunday in Bradenton was inconclusive.

Authorities said that means they haven't been able to positively identify whether the body is that of a missing child, Janiya Thomas, 11.

Her mother, Keishanna Thomas, will be back in court on Thursday for contempt of court charges. She was held in contempt of court and taken to the Manatee County jail without bond after refusing to tell a judge anything about Janiya's whereabouts or condition.

Legal analyst Kevin Hayslett is not working this case but he said Thomas' silence doesn't surprise him.

"The question is how long can she be held for refusing to answer those questions? At some point, we might find this in the hands of the Second District Court of Appeals to have them weigh in on whether or not she can continue to be held," Hayslett said.

Police presume the body found is Janiya but Hayslett said the complete autopsy results may take a while.

"DNA will take days if not weeks. So don't expect DNA to come back tomorrow, expect it a month from now," he said.

Police said right now the investigation is on hold and no murder charges have been filed since they're waiting for the autopsy results.

Hayslett said it could become difficult for prosecutors to keep Thomas in jail on the contempt charges alone.

"If the only evidence they have is an unidentified body, they may not be able to connect the dots to allow probably cause for that judge to hold her," he said.

Thomas is also facing child abuse charges in a different case with a different child, but if she's able to pay the $100,000 bond for that, she could go free, if the contempt charges were to get dropped.

 

Clearwater DUI Defense Attorney Kevin Hayslett Says Novel Approach for Dealing with DUI Checkpoints May Help Drivers Avoid Arrest

Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett’s Kevin Hayslett says remaining silent at DUI checkpoints is a strategy that just might keep Florida drivers out of jail and preserve their driving privileges.

The Washington Post’s recent report of a Boca Raton attorney’s approach to helping drivers avoiding DUI arrests at checkpoints – by remaining silent and directing police to a plastic bag containing their driver’s license, automobile registration, proof of insurance and a “fair DUI flyer” – is generating buzz and controversy among DUI defense attorneys and the public at large.

According to the Washington Post’s February 10, 2015 article, the “fair DUI flyer” informs police to place any DUI ticket under the automobile’s windshield wiper and states that Florida drivers at DUI checkpoints are only required to show law enforcement officers the documents in the plastic bag, not to physically hand the information over to the officers.

Debates over the legality of this novel approach are rampant, with law enforcement officials pointing to the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, as authority for their right to conduct DUI checkpoints, according to the Washington Post. Advocacy organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) believe that sobriety checkpoints are one of the most effective DUI enforcement tools, reducing fatalities by 20 percent.According to MADD, there were 40,677 DUI arrests in Florida in 2014 and 676 drunk driving fatalities.

High-profile Clearwater DUI defense attorney and "The Attorney to the Stars", Kevin Hayslett, of Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett, stated that, “The penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida are severe and a DUI charge can have serious and wide-ranging consequences. While it is debatable how a court will ultimately rule on this clever strategy, if remaining silent can help drivers avoid taking a field sobriety test and Breathalyzer test it is a worthwhile approach to dealing with DUI checkpoints.”

Attorney Hayslett helps drivers charged with DUI evaluate their case and develop an effective defense strategy to preserve their rights, keep their record clean, and prevent them from losing their freedom and license to drive.

This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

 

Clearwater DUI Defense Attorneys at Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. Release Tip Sheet to Remind Drivers of Florida's DUI Penalties


Drivers are encouraged to stay safe and avoid the serious consequences of driving under the influence.

August 28, 2015

Holidays and vacations are a peak time period for driving under the influence (DUI) arrests. While celebrating over summer vacation, it is crucial to recognize how to avoid a DUI, the penalties for drinking and driving, an appropriate or inappropriate DUI investigation by an officer, what to do if wrongly accused of drinking and driving, and how to deal with DUI charges. The Clearwater DUI attorneys at Carlson, Meissner, Hart and Hayslett P.A. have more than 125 years of combined experience helping drivers recover from DUI penalties in the Tampa Bay Area and are available to assist drivers with any DUI penalty needs.

“We recognize that catching drivers under the influence keeps our communities safe,” J, Kevin Hayslett, Esq. of Carlson, Meissner, Hart and Hayslett P.A. said. “However, there is also a need for those arrested for DUI to stay protected from wrong accusations, and receive direction on how to prevent an unfortunate event from occurring in the future.”

According to state law, Florida prohibits drivers to operate any type of vehicle while impaired. The standard measurement of impairment across the United States is a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 percent or higher. If an officer believes this may be the case, he or she may perform a DUI investigation. Legally, a driver undergoing the investigation should understand how to react to the given tests and know what is expected of them, what they are required to participate in by law and what tasks they may want to refuse. Although officers are required to share all necessary information, it is better that the driver knows beforehand in order to avoid unnecessary accusations.

According to Drivinglaws.org, under certain situations, those arrested in Florida for DUI can face serious penalties for a first-time DUI offense, including:

  • Fines up to $2,000
  • One-year license suspension
  • Nine months jail time

Multiple DUI offenses can elevate to a felony offense. DUI consequences are serious and can have wide-reaching ramifications, affecting many aspects of life, including:

  • Jobs
  • Trade licenses such as a plumbing or nursing license
  • College acceptance
  • Expulsion from educational programs or refusal of federal scholarships or loans

At Carlson, Meissner, Hart and Hayslett P.A., our Clearwater DUI lawyers help get drivers back on track after a DUI arrest. Contact us today for a free consultation at (877) 728-9653 or online at http://www.carlsonmeissner.com.

About Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett , P.A.
The law firm of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett P.A. was founded in 1971 by attorneys Ed Carlson and Paul Meissner. For more than four decades, they have been committed to protecting the injured and defending the accused. Their attorneys have established a solid reputation of case success throughout Florida, providing strong legal representation, easy accessibility and a high level of dependability. A client-centered approach ensures that clients know what is happening as their case progresses, and understand their options every step of the way. With a focus on personal injury, they help victims of auto accidents, slip and falls and wrongful death accidents. The firm is well-known for their innovative criminal defense and DUI work, defending both local and high-profile clients. Attorney and Partner Kevin Hayslett is widely recognized as The Attorney to the Stars, providing strong legal representation for notable celebrities and dignitaries throughout Florida. The firm also handles social security disability, workers compensation, divorce, family law and immigration cases. They offer free initial consultations and have five convenient Tampa Bay Area locations. Attorneys are available 24/7 for emergencies. Count on the legal team of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. to be there, fighting for you, protecting your rights. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 877-728-9653 or visit their website at http://www.CarlsonMeissner.com

 

Clearwater DUI Attorney Kevin Hayslett, of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A., Warns Drivers DUI Charges Can Include Both Alcohol and Drugs


Driving under the influence of drugs in Florida carries the same stiff penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol

August 11, 2015

Although law enforcement spots fewer drugged drivers than drunk drivers, driving under the influence of any substance—illegal or prescribed—is equally as dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey found that over 22 percent of drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs. In order to reduce the risk of drugged driving this year, a nationwide campaign is encouraging law enforcers to place drugged driving prevention efforts on par with those of drunk driving.

Leading Clearwater DUI attorney Kevin Hayslett of Carlson, Meissner, Hart and Hayslett P.A., recognized as a “Top Rated DUI Attorney” by AVVO, expresses his concern for the amount of drug-related DUI charges he anticipates for Tampa Bay area drivers. “Laws are put in place to keep us out of harm,” Hayslett said. “Drivers need to be aware of the penalties they will face if they mistakenly drive while under the influence of any substance, including regular prescription medication.”

The White House has set a goal to reduce the rate of drugged driving by 10 percent in 2015. This includes working with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to highlight the epidemic and enforce strict drugged driving regulations. Main points of this strategy are to encourage states to adopt Per Se drug impairment laws, enhance drugged driving education among communities and professionals, increase training of law enforcement on identifying drugged drivers and to develop standard screening methods for drug-testing labs to use in detecting the presence of drugs.

Although the rate of fatal accidents caused by alcohol has always been higher than those caused by other drugs, commonly used illegal and prescription drugs still cause equal damage when ingested by the driver because they may impair the driver’s perception, judgment, motor skills and memory. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 9.9 million people aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed.

As part of the initiative to reduce drugged driving throughout the country, ONDCP will continue to conduct further research. Communities may also join the fight to reduce this threat of public safety by participating in the various coalitions and organizations put in place as resources to prevent drug-related tragedies in their area.

If you have been charged with DUI, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, contact Tampa DUI attorney Kevin Hayslett for a free initial consultation at (877) 728-9653. Trust our DUI lawyers to protect your freedom and your future.

About Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett , P.A. - The law firm of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett P.A. was founded in 1971 by attorneys Ed Carlson and Paul Meissner. For more than four decades, they have been committed to protecting the injured and defending the accused. Their attorneys have established a solid reputation of case success throughout Florida, providing strong legal representation, easy accessibility and a high level of dependability. A client-centered approach ensures that clients know what is happening as their case progresses, and understand their options every step of the way. With a focus on personal injury, they help victims of auto accidents, slip and falls and wrongful death accidents. The firm is well-known for their innovative criminal defense and DUI work, defending both local and high-profile clients. Attorney and Partner Kevin Hayslett is widely recognized as The Attorney to the Stars, providing strong legal representation for notable celebrities and dignitaries throughout Florida. The firm also handles social security disability, workers compensation, divorce, family law and immigration cases. They offer free initial consultations and have five convenient Tampa Bay Area locations. Attorneys are available 24/7 for emergencies. Count on the legal team of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. to be there, fighting for you, protecting your rights. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 877-728-9653 or visit their website at http://www.CarlsonMeissner.com

 

Clearwater DUI Defense Attorney Kevin Hayslett Says Novel Approach for Dealing with DUI Checkpoints May Help Drivers Avoid Arrest


More than 40,000 Florida drivers were arrested for DUI in 2014

MAY 13, 2015

Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett’s Kevin Hayslett says remaining silent at DUI checkpoints is a strategy that just might keep Florida drivers out of jail and preserve their driving privileges.

The Washington Post’s recent report of a Boca Raton attorney’s approach to helping drivers avoiding DUI arrests at checkpoints – by remaining silent and directing police to a plastic bag containing their driver’s license, automobile registration, proof of insurance and a “fair DUI flyer” – is generating buzz and controversy among DUI defense attorneys and the public at large.

According to the Washington Post’s February 10, 2015 article, the “fair DUI flyer” informs police to place any DUI ticket under the automobile’s windshield wiper and states that Florida drivers at DUI checkpoints are only required to show law enforcement officers the documents in the plastic bag, not to physically hand the information over to the officers.

Debates over the legality of this novel approach are rampant, with law enforcement officials pointing to the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, as authority for their right to conduct DUI checkpoints, according to the Washington Post.

Advocacy organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) believe that sobriety checkpoints are one of the most effective DUI enforcement tools, reducing fatalities by 20 percent. According to MADD, there were 40,677 DUI arrests in Florida in 2014 and 676 drunk driving fatalities.

High-profile Clearwater DUI defense attorney and "The Attorney to the Stars", Kevin Hayslett, of Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett, stated that, “The penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida are severe and a DUI charge can have serious and wide-ranging consequences. While it is debatable how a court will ultimately rule on this clever strategy, if remaining silent can help drivers avoid taking a field sobriety test and Breathalyzer test it is a worthwhile approach to dealing with DUI checkpoints.”

Attorney Hayslett helps drivers charged with DUI evaluate their case and develop an effective defense strategy to preserve their rights, keep their record clean, and prevent them from losing their freedom and license to drive.

This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

About Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett , P.A.
The law firm of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett P.A. was founded in 1971 by attorneys Ed Carlson and Paul Meissner. For more than four decades, they have been committed to protecting the injured and defending the accused. Their attorneys have established a solid reputation of case success throughout Florida, providing strong legal representation, easy accessibility and a high level of dependability. A client-centered approach ensures that clients know what is happening as their case progresses, and understand their options every step of the way. With a focus on personal injury, they help victims of auto accidents, slip and falls and wrongful death accidents. The firm is well-known for their innovative criminal defense and DUI work, defending both local and high-profile clients. Attorney and Partner Kevin Hayslett is widely recognized as The Attorney to the Stars, providing strong legal representation for notable celebrities and dignitaries throughout Florida. The firm also handles social security disability, workers compensation, divorce, family law and immigration cases. They offer free initial consultations and have five convenient Tampa Bay Area locations. Attorneys are available 24/7 for emergencies. Count on the legal team of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. to be there, fighting for you, protecting your rights. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 877-728-9653 or visit their website at http://www.CarlsonMeissner.com


 

High-Profile Clearwater Criminal Attorney Kevin Hayslett's Popular Radio Show Returns to the Airwaves on WHFS-98.7 FM


"Kevins Law" is in Tampa Bay once again, at the new radio home of Bubba the Love Sponge

February 13, 2015

Prominent Clearwater criminal defense attorney Kevin Hayslett, of Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett P.A., has returned to the Tampa airwaves as the on-air legal commentator for “Kevins Law,” a one-hour segment on Bubba the Love Sponge’s new morning radio show, now airing on WHFS-98.7 FM. The “Kevins Law” segment, which originally debuted in 2011, airs on alternating Thursdays at 7:30 am EST.

In the returning segment, Hayslett takes questions from individuals in the Tampa Bay area via Twitter about criminal matters and offers commentary on the legal ramifications surrounding current news events. “So many people in the Tampa Bay area have questions about legal issues they or their family members are currently facing,” said Hayslett. “Being able to provide general guidance and direct them down the right path helps them save time and resources and hopefully leads them to a successful resolution of their situation.”

Hayslett, a well-recognized Florida criminal attorney  is a partner in the law firm Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett. He has provided useful legal information and commentary to hundreds of thousands of listeners during his affiliation with Bubba the Love Sponge.

A topic Hayslett frequently addresses during “Kevins Law” is the expungement of criminal records. Hayslett is keenly aware that criminal records cause Florida residents to be blocked from jobs and schools and denied credit. He is skilled at providing a clear explanation of the steps to take to wipe one’s criminal record clean and eliminate a criminal record as a barrier to a productive life.

For questions about expungement or other legal matters, listeners are encouraged to tweet their legal questions to @BTLSRadio or directly to Mr. Hayslett at @atty2thestars.

Click Here to view the full article

Better watch Saul, Why Tampa Bay lawyers love the devious attorney from "breaking Bad". 

By Curtis Kruger, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer, January 29, 2015

Jot down every negative lawyer stereotype you can think of: greedy, arrogant, double-talking, backstabbing. Keep going, there's more. Now, cue the twangy theme music to TV's Breaking Bad. Because the list you compiled amounts to a character sketch of Saul Goodman, the show's deliciously devious strip-mall attorney who is getting his own show, Better Call Saul, premiering Feb. 8 and 9 on AMC. You'd think real lawyers would hate this fictional attorney who represents the legal profession about as well as Genghis Khan represents the field of management. And yet, plenty of lawyers love Saul. "It's almost like he's your alter ego," said Jennifer Zedalis, director of trial practice at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law.

"I would categorize Saul as pretty much a dirtbag but a very funny and entertaining one," said attorney Brian Pingor. Saul "seems like somebody you'd want to sit around and have a beer with,'' Pingor said. "He's definitely that guy." Retired Hillsborough Chief Judge Manuel Menendez Jr. is a big fan of Saul's. "He's the most unethical lawyer ever portrayed on TV that I can recall. But despite that, (he's) a likeable character," Menendez said. Lawyers quote Saul Goodman so much, he's like the evil twin of Oliver Wendell Holmes. Jay Hebert, a Clearwater criminal defense attorney, shared a favorite Breaking Bad quote: "You don't want a criminal lawyer,'' Saul tells his drug-dealing clients. "You want a criminal lawyer."
 

Clearwater criminal defense and DUI attorney Kevin Hayslett mentioned a typical Saul quote, too: "Let's just say I know a guy who knows a guy who knows another guy." In the real world, Hayslett said, winning a case depends a lot more on facts. Attorneys don't really "know a guy" who can make charges disappear, as Saul suggests.Still, Hayslett said, "I think everyone wants to believe somehow that you know a guy who knows a guy. And that's partly because Hollywood has created that belief. Saul strikes a chord not just with lawyers but also with people who may need a lawyer, as Hayslett well knows. 

Breaking Bad ended its five-season run in 2013, Hayslett came up with a marketing idea. He put up billboards on U.S. 19 that said: "Saul's gone … better call Kevin," copying the periodic-table lettering motif used in Breaking Bad. Not everyone got the joke, but those who did went out of their way to let Hayslett know. "I had people who stopped by my office, who came in the front door and said, 'Listen, I don't have any criminal problems, but can I get your card because I absolutely love the billboard.' Hayslett also gave away 600 "Better Call Kevin" T-shirts. "I've never seen something that evoked this emotional connection to a lawyer," he said.

According to the Breaking Bad back story of Saul, played by Bob Odenkirk, he's an Irish guy named Jimmy McGill but changed his name to suggest he is Jewish. He works in a run-down Albuquerque, N.M., strip mall topped with an inflatable Statue of Liberty. "Oh, man, who's going in there to get some advice?" Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge John Schaefer said, chuckling. "It can't get any slimier, but that's what makes it funny," Hayslett said.
 

Click Here to read the full Tampa Bay Times article

Bay News 9's legal analyst Kevin Hayslett weighed in on what to expect in court. "In this case a judge will appoint a lawyer to him,” Hayslett said.

By Erin Maloney, Reporter, Bay News 9
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 8:16 AM

A makeshift memorial still sits on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge for Phoebe Jonchuck, the 5-year-old girl who was dropped off a bridge to her death this week.

Her father, Jon Jonchuck, is accused of the crime. Jonchuck was appointed an attorney at a court appearance on Monday. During Jonchuck's first appearance, he was asked about an attorney and he told the judge he was 'leaving it up to God.'

Meanwhile, the Department of Children and Families is making policy changes following the little girl’s death. Phoebe lived with her father and on the last day of her life, his behavior frightened his lawyer so much she called authorities and DCF. Deputies questioned Jonchuck but say they found nothing wrong.

“We've changed the protocol at the hotline. If somebody calls and alleges somebody is having some type of acute mental health episode, we're going to initiate immediate investigation each and every time on that,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll.

DCF will be required now to meet with the parent and victim within four hours for an evaluation. But it's still not apparent if the new protocol would have helped Phoebe in this case because authorities said Jonchuck didn't appear to be a clear and present danger to his child.

Click Here to go read the full Bay News 9 story

 


WJLA
Analyst weighs in on what to expect in Jonchuck case
Bay News 9's legal analyst Kevin Hayslett weighed in on what to expect in court. "In this case a judge will appoint a lawyer to him,” Hayslett said.
WJLA
Analyst weighs in on what to expect in Jonchuck case
Bay News 9's legal analyst Kevin Hayslett weighed in on what to expect in court. "In this case a judge will appoint a lawyer to him,” Hayslett said.
WJLA
Analyst weighs in on what to expect in Jonchuck case
Bay News 9's legal analyst Kevin Hayslett weighed in on what to expect in court. "In this case a judge will appoint a lawyer to him,” Hayslett said.