An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist you in understanding the complexities of the criminal justice system. Attorney Darla K. Snead is a former prosecutor, who understands both sides of the system. This is a very important factor in choosing a criminal defense attorney. Why? Because who better to negotiate or challenge the other side than someone who has “been there” and done their job. Attorney Snead was an Assistant State Attorney in Bartow, Polk County, Florida, as well as in Chicago Illinois.

Once you’ve been arrested and charged with a felony or misdemeanor, you should be aware that these criminal offenses carry legal penalties such as jail time and/or probation. Moreover, felonies and misdemeanors are divided further into different degrees (first and second degree for misdemeanors, and first, second, and third degrees for felonies).

If you have been charged with any crime, it is important not to discuss the details of your case with anyone except an attorney. Conversations with attorneys are protected by attorney-client privilege, but conversations with others could be used against you by the State in the prosecution. If you are in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney, call or contact Lakeland Florida attorney Darla K. Snead at (863) 619-5291 for an evaluation of your criminal case. Accepting cases in Polk, Hardee, Highlands and Hillsborough Counties. We have a wealth of experience in a wide-range of criminal defense situations.


Felonies typically involve far more serious crimes and are punishable by incarceration in the Florida State Prison system. Felonies fall into categories of Capital, Life, 1st Degree, 2nd Degree and 3rd Degree felonies. There are many crimes listed in the Florida Statutes. The following include the categories and examples of some common crimes that are punishable by these maximum penalties:

  • Capital felony – 1st Degree murder and some sex offenses have a maximum penalty of death or life imprisonment without the chance for parole.
  • Life felonies, such as 2nd Degree murder, burglary with assault, armed burglary, and some sex crimes are punishable by a maximum penalty of: (1) life imprisonment or (2) a split sentence of 25 years to life in prison and probation or community control for the rest of the person’s natural life.
  • First Degree felony – certain drug crimes, such as trafficking drugs or sale of drugs within 1000 feet of a school, and violent crimes like kidnapping or robbery with a firearm, and some white collar crimes are punishable by up to 30 years in prison or, if specifically designated by statute, a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment.
  • Second Degree felonies – which can include sale or purchase of drugs, discharging weapons, aggravated battery and assault/battery on a law enforcement officer have maximum penalties of 15 years in prison.
  • Third Degree felonies – possession of certain drugs, such as methamphetamine, cocaine, or cannabis (marijuana) over 20 grams, aggravated assault, child abuse, fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence, forgery, 3rd conviction petit theft, grand theft and burglary are punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment.

All felonies (except for capital felonies) are subject to the Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet. In accordance with statutory guidelines, relevant factors are assessed in order to determine the convicted defendant’s sentencing. Keep in mind that these guidelines suggest a range of sentencing; the court has the discretion to sentence the person up to the Maximum Penalties under the law. Additionally, depending upon a person’s criminal history, Florida law allows certain increases in the maximum penalty where a person qualifies as a habitual felony offender, a habitual violent felony offender, a three time violent felony offender, a violent career criminal, or a prison release reoffender. A person may also be facing a minimum prison sentence, even in cases where the person has no prior criminal record, if the person uses a weapon or knife in the crime.

Additionally, crimes such as trafficking in illegal drugs, have minimum prison sentences associated with those crimes, which may be from 3 years Florida State Prison to 25 years Florida State prison, although the individual may have no other criminal record.


Misdemeanors in the state of Florida include cannabis (marijuana) possession (if less than 20 grams), assault and battery, petit theft (also known as shoplifting), spousal abuse/domestic violence, most DUIs, and driving with a suspended or revoked license.

First Degree misdemeanors can carry up to a maximum of one year in county jail; second Degree misdemeanors are lesser offenses that carry up to a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail. It is possible for the court to impose a probationary sentence in lieu of or in addition to imprisonment. Sometimes, a misdemeanor can be reclassified up to a higher degree misdemeanor or a felony for certain aggravating factors.

If you need an experienced criminal defense attorney, call or contact Lakeland Florida attorney Darla K. Snead at (863) 619-5291 for an evaluation of your criminal case. Accepting cases in Polk, Hardee, Highlands and Hillsborough Counties.


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