Stephen Bernhardt Attorney at Law Since 2010

Stephen Bernhardt has been an attorney since 2010. A decade later, Stephen has accumulated extensive trial experience in both criminal and civil law. He began his legal career as a prosecutor, first handling misdemeanor offenses such as DUI, Battery, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Violation of Injunction and many others. Stephen quickly escalated to a felony division and became senior attorney in his division. As such, Stephen conducted many trials involving high-level crimes. Stephen won multiple jury trials that resulted in prison sentences of more than 25 years, including one life sentence. Stephen also became the State Attorney’s Office’s liaison for the county’s Drug Court Program. In this role, he learned many techniques to help individuals overcome addictions, as well as what differences exist between the many rehabilitation establishments throughout Florida.

After leaving the State Attorney’s Office, Stephen began practicing civil law for one of the largest creditors’ rights firms in the United States. Within months, Stephen became the lead litigator for the firm’s Florida office and handled countless civil hearings and trials. Ultimately, Bernhardt left that firm to start Bernhardt Law, PLLC. Using the knowledge Stephen has gained throughout the last decade, Bernhardt Law maintains a sharp focus and dedication to ensuring each client’s specific situation is handled with the utmost professionalism, attention to detail, and integrity.


Community Involvement:

Stephen remains active in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys giving back to the community whenever possible.  While keeping up the activities of his three children, Stephen also participates in various charities, local high school shadowing programs, and supports BIKERSCAP, a non-profit organization that has been building laptops for underprivileged students for many years. Stephen is also a member of the Clearwater Bar Association, St. Petersburg Bar Association, the Hillsborough Bar Association, and the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce. 


Practice Areas:

Stephen focuses his practice in the areas of Criminal Defense, Debt Defense, and Personal Injury.  Stephen’s Criminal Defense practice includes a wide range of crimes including DUI, Battery, Petit Theft, Grand Theft, Drug Possession, Drug Sales, Burglary, Robbery, and many other charges.  Bernhardt Law will often handle the expungement of a charge after the case is resolved if the client qualifies for expungement.  Stephen’s Debt Defense practice generally includes defense of credit card and auto loan deficiency lawsuits.  Stephen also handles personal injury cases of many types.  See our practice areas page for more details.

criminal defense palmharbor

Athena Pearl Riley Attorney at Law Since 2010


Athena Pearl Riley is a former felony prosecutor, licensed Realtor, and real estate investor. Athena’s extensive trial experience, meticulous attention to case details, and real estate background has made her the go-to attorney for individuals, investors and businesses alike seeking the zealous representation they deserve. Selected to serve as the Chief Justice of her alma mater at the University of New Mexico (UNM), Athena went on to graduate from UNM School of Law, where she was a member of her law school’s nationally ranked mock trial team, winning Regionals and advancing to Nationals. Athena received a number of distinguished honors during law school, including the American Association for Justice Partnership in Advocacy award, the American Board of Trial Advocates mock trial student of the year award, first place honors in the Mediation Competition, advancing to Regionals in the Negotiation Competition, competing in the invitation only National Institute for Trial Advocacy Tournament of Champions, and serving as the President of the New Mexico Trial Lawyers Student Association.

Athena was subsequently selected to be the National Trial Competition Coach for Golden Gate School of Law in San Francisco, California, where she taught for two years prior to relocating to Northwest Florida. Athena received the 2019 Florida Association for Women Lawyers “Leader in the Law” award and has dedicated her practice to protecting her clients financial and property interests.


Community Involvement:

Athena is very active in her community, having served on a number of local boards including United Way, Boys & Girls Club and the Healthy Start Coalition. Athena is the founding member of the Okaloosa Florida Association for Women Lawyers (OFAWL), and of Franklin’s Tree House Foundation, where her and her husband have created the “Confident Kids!” program which partners with Children in Crisis, Inc, a non-profit organization serving foster children from Okaloosa, Walton, Santa Rosa and Escambia counties. She is also a member of the Professional Investor’s Guild – a local real estate investing association, where she received the award for best before and after home renovation. In her free time, Athena enjoys running, reading, cooking and exploring the white sand beaches and nature trails of the place she now calls home.

Practice areas:

Athena’s practice covers a wide range of civil issues including simple to complex contract disputes, business entity incorporations, negligent and fraudulent misrepresentations, land disputes, condominium defects, HOA representation, mold litigation, unlawful detainers, evictions, and defending against federal and state civil asset forfeitures, among handling a number of other civil issues.

Jessica Bernhardt
Office Manager

Jessica joined the firm in 2019 and handles many of the firm’s day-to-day activities. Jessica’s cheerful and professional personality resonates throughout the firm and she is often the first point of contact for clients in the firm’s Tamp Bay offices and truly treats each client as family.

Rhonda Louviere
Legal Assistant

Rhonda is an experienced legal assistant who has a strong background of working in the legal industry for the past five years, with a specialization in Civil Litigation, Estate Planning, Foreclosures, and Business Transactions. Rhonda’s thoughtful and kind demeanor make her a joy for our clients to work as she is often the first point of contact for clients in the firm’s Northwest Florida office.