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A serious crime, characterized under federal law and many state statutes as any offense punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year.

Under the early Common Law, felonies were crimes involving moral turpitude, those which violated the moral standards of a community. Later, however, crimes that did not involve mortal turpitude became included in the definition of a felony.Presently many state statutes list various classes of felonies with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the offense. Crimes classified as felonies include, among others, Treason, Arson, murder, rape, Robbery, Burglary, Manslaughter, and Kidnapping.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. 1) a crime sufficiently serious to be punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison, as distinguished from a misdemeanor which is only punishable by confinement to county or local jail and/or a fine. 2) a crime carrying a minimum term of one year or more in state prison, since a year or less can be served in county jail. However, a sentence upon conviction for a felony may sometimes be less than one year at the discretion of the judge and within limits set by statute. Felonies are sometimes referred to as "high crimes" as described in the U. S. Constitution. (See: sentence, misdemeanor)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


a now archaic term of English law for crimes that by statute or by common law carried the death sentence and forfeiture on conviction. See MISDEMEANOUR. In some US states this still denotes more serious imprisonable crimes.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
(43) As a result, the sharpness of the distinction between felonies and misdemeanors--at least in terms of post-conviction consequences--has been dulled.
In so holding, the court in Shock explicitly overruled both Jennings and Nueslein, (73) Shortly after the decision in Shock, the Missouri legislature amended the murder statute by explicitly limiting predicate felonies to a short list of enumerated felonies.
While most recidivist increases operate within their offense spectrum, where misdemeanors remain misdemeanors and felonies remain felonies, (102) shifting between a misdemeanor and a felony brings about not only increased incarceration, but new felony collateral consequences.
Wilson (72) the California Supreme Court faced the question whether the Ireland limitation should be imposed on one of the felonies (burglary) enumerated in Section 189.
1996) (indentifying one of the original purposes of the felony-murder rule as deterring the commission of "certain felonies in a dangerous or violent way").
[section] 3559(a), which treats a felony (in different grades) as a federal offense punishable by more than one year in prison, (36) and does not broadly define felony as including crimes classified by a state as felonies if they are punishable by no more than one year in prison when prosecuted in federal court.
There is a considerable historical literature that explores changes in the process of prosecuting both felonies and misdemeanors in England.
11, private security firms are increasingly conducting criminal background checks that are affecting mostly black and Latino workers with felonies, according to a National Public Radio report.
The bill would create two new anti-shredding felonies designed to set clear requirements for preserving financial audit documents and close loopholes in current laws.
On March 19th, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office charged Bennett with felony murder, a second-degree offense under a state law that allows persons involved in felonies to be charged with murder even when they do not personally do the killing.
The state of Alabama permanently bars people convicted of felonies from exercising the right to vote.