Like pop legend Taylor Swift's CSI character, Hale’s role was a one-episode appearance that arrived came shortly before the height of her career success. A few short months after Hale starred in Pretty Little Liars, the actor played a one-episode guest role as "Phoebe Nichols," pop singer and America's sweetheart, on CSI: Miami. Although her character seemingly died in the episode’s opening moments, Hale ended up having much more screen time that that summary implies.
Hale appeared on CSI: Miami in the episode “Show Stopper” (season 8, episode 12), with the actor playing a pop musician whose pushy mother forced her to pursue stardom. This seemingly resulted in the death of Hale’s character Phoebe during a dramatic accident onstage at the beginning of the CSI: Miami episode. However, after the titular team examine the unfortunate singer's body, they are troubled but the discovery that she was dead before the blaze that appeared to kill her onstage. Soon the crew realized the victim is not the teen idol as they were told, but in fact someone else. Instead, it was Phoebe's body double who died, and, in classic CSI fashion, the focus of the episodes then changes to whether they can save the real musician before it's too late.
Unlike a lot of famous faces who crop up on CSI and its many spinoffs, Hale’s character Phoebe made it out alive. Phoebe became a rare celebrity guest star who survived their appearance on the infamously grisly series when the CSI: Miami team rescued her from the basement of a corrupt doctor who was drugging her at the behest of her management team. The CSI: Miami crew even discovered that Phoenix’s overbearing mother was the real mastermind behind the kidnapping, imprisonment, and unsuccessful replacement of her daughter, leading to Hale’s character being freed from her management by the episode’s ending.
In the closing scenes of “Show Stopper,” Pretty Little Liars's future Aria actor played a more level-headed Phoebe who returned to her country roots and played folk music at smaller shows having been freed from her mother’s clutches. The happy ending led some reviewers online at the time to compare the character with real-life teen idol/pop star Miley Cyrus, who was then undergoing a drawn-out transition from kid-friendly singer to a more adult, mature musician. However, Hale’s CSI: Miami character never made another appearance on the show and the CSI spinoff’s creators never commented on the similarity between her character and any real-life celebrities.