Friday, February 28, 2014

"Hot Convict" Says She's Had Enough Publicity

Meagan Simmons, a Tampa woman charged with DUI in 2010, had her mugshot go viral. Now, she is suing a "background check" company that used her image to advertise and make money -- which her attorney says is illegal.

There is one fact Meagan Simmons' attorney agrees on.

"Her mug shot is a public record. It was published on a website. It is publicly available," said Matthew Crist with the Clark and Martino law firm.

In fact, people online have used Simmons' mug several times for fun, but it was no fun for her.

In 2010, she was charged for driving under the influence in Hillsborough County. Overnight, many fell hard for the woman dubbed the "good looking convict," but after finding her mug advertising an online background check company, the mother of four grew concerned.

"My client is not affiliated with Instant Checkmate. She has no involvement with Instant Checkmate. They never got her consent to use her image," Crist said.

Crist filed a lawsuit against Instant Checkmate, stating it violated Florida law.

"The fact is, she was arrested in 2010 -- four years ago -- and they're using her mug shot, and prominently using her mug shot, to promote their website," Crist said.

They say while her mug shot is public record, she hasn't chosen to represent Instant Checkmate.

"You can't take a public record and turn it into an advertisement and make someone's face be a promoting part of a product that you don't have an affiliation of," he said.

In Simmons' lawsuit, she says the exposure has disturbed her peace of mind, invaded her privacy, and caused mental anguish.

Her attorney hopes to get her mug shot off the ads and reverse the damage.

"You have your face. It's your property. You own it, you have the right to control," he added.

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