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Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett | Legal Blog

Dec  31,  2015

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft

As holiday shopping levels increase to a frenzy, so does identity theft. Thieves search for opportunities to take advantage of distracted shoppers focused on the hectic holidays. “15 million people fall victim to identity theft in the U.S. each year. Many people admit to being worrisome of this issue, but struggle to properly protect their information,” remarked attorney Larry Hart. By putting the following tips to use, your personal information stands a higher chance of staying safe from thieves this holiday season. 

  1. Don’t Carry Your Social Security Card in Your Wallet 
    Only give your social security number when absolutely necessary. 
  2. Shoulder Surfers
    Be weary of “shoulder surfers” in crowded checkouts. Shield the pin pad when entering a pin number or any other personal information. 
  3. Be Careful When Shopping on a Public Network
    By doing your holiday online shopping at a local coffee shop, your banking information becomes easily available to hackers. Using a public Wi-Fi network on your phone, tablet, or computer can be dangerous as thieves have the ability to access any information passed through the network. 
  4. Look for the Lock 
    When making a purchase online, look for a lock symbol to the left of the website’s URL. This confirms that you are purchasing on a secure site. If there isn’t a lock, beware of hackers that create ‘clone’ websites for popular online shopping sites. 
  5. Check Your Credit Report and Bank Statements
    Check your credit report at least once a year to be certain it does not include any accounts you have not opened. If you suspect your information has been compromised, check the report more often. Additionally, it is important to monitor bank statements closely.  Often time thieves are caught stealing small amounts at a time, meaning you may notice a suspicious charge for only $2. During this season, check your online bank account often while on a secure network. 
  6. Request a Chip Card and Dip Instead
    Using a credit card with a chip is safer for two reasons. The chip makes your physical credit card harder to counterfeit and rather than sending all of your information to a merchant when you buy something, the chip sends a unique code that an identity thief or hacker wouldn’t be able to use even if they discovered it. The code “expires”. When using with a credit card with an embedded computer chip, you will dip your card at checkout, rather than slide it. 


Tags: tampa criminal defense lawyers, criminal defense attorneys, identity theft, ways to prevent identity theft, carlson meissner
Posted in Announcements|Criminal Defense|Community|Economic Perspective|News and Media
Nov  09,  2015
By Jeff Patterson, WFLA-TV

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.

By Jeff Patterson, WFLA-TV

Tags: tampa car accident lawyers, hit and run accidents, clearwater accident attorneys, tampa criminal defense lawyers, carlson meissner, kevin hayslett
Posted in Personal Injury|Criminal Defense|Community|News and Media|DUI
Oct  30,  2015

The attorneys at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett's Spring Hill office have a strong reputation as dynamic and tenacious, representing comprehensive legal issues and delivering optimal results. For years, the practicing attorneys have followed a client-focused approach, allowing the firm to stand the test of time. Attorney Betty Whitman’s experience and devotion to service makes her an exceptional addition to the well-rounded group of attorneys.

As a Certified Continuing Education Instructor in the State of Florida, Betty is passionate about leading speaking engagements and presentations that provide legal guidance for industry leaders. Betty is also passionate about the environment and currently serves as Chairman of the Florida Agriculture and Wildlife Expo celebrating heritage, culture and community. In 2010, she was named a Florida “Super Lawyer” and in 2012 achieved the honor of being named “Boss of the Year” by the Marion County Legal Support Association.

Betty’s extensive legal experience began even before she started practicing law in 1987. Betty worked as secretary to her father, a general practitioner in Melbourne, Florida. She continued work as a legal secretary before obtaining her B.A. Degree and attending law school at the University of Florida. In 1987, after becoming a member of the Florida Bar, Betty began practicing law in Marion County. Her areas of specialty include Personal injury, Automobile Accidents, Slip and Fall Accidents, Products Liability, Workers’ Compensation and Wrongful Death.

Betty has achieved an AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell® for high ethical standards and professional ability, a testament her peers rate her at the highest level of achievement. Her high level of success ensures sound legal advice and innovative strategies for clients.

Betty Whitman has repeatedly proven her commitment to client-centered representation,” explained J. Larry Hart, Esq. “Her dedication to serving others in our practice and within the community is remarkable. We are thrilled to have her join our team.”

Betty will be joining the firm's Spring Hill location as lead attorney for personal injury and workers’ compensation. For more information or to set up a free consultation, Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett P.A. invite you to call 352-247-4400 or visit the firm’s website at

Posted in Announcements|Personal Injury|Criminal Defense|Community|News and Media|Workers Compensation
Oct  21,  2015
By Laurie Davidson, Bay News 9

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.


By Laurie Davison, Bay News 9

Posted in News and Media
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