A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors. Many common law countries have now abolished the felony/misdemeanor distinction and replaced it with other distinctions such as between indictable offenses and summary offenses. A felony is generally considered to be a crime of "high seriousness", while a misdemeanor is not.
A person convicted in a court of law of a felony crime is known as a felon. In the United States, where the felony/misdemeanor distinction is still widely applied, the federal government defines a felony as a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year. If punishable by exactly one year or less, it is classified as a misdemeanor. The individual states may differ in this definition, using other categories as seriousness or context.
Similar to felonies in some civil law countries (Italy, etc.) are delicts, whereas in others (France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland etc.) crimes (more serious) and delicts (less serious).
Famous quotes containing the word felony:
“Publishers are notoriously slothful about numbers, unless theyre attached to dollar signsunlike journalists, quarterbacks, and felony criminal defendents who tend to be keenly aware of numbers at all times.”
—Hunter S. Thompson (b. 1939)