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noun, fel·o·ny \ˈfe-lə-nē\

Simple Definition of felony

  • law : a serious crime (such as murder or rape)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of felony

plural felonies

  1. 1 :  an act on the part of a feudal vassal involving the forfeiture of his fee

  2. 2 a :  a grave crime formerly differing from a misdemeanor under English common law by involving forfeiture in addition to any other punishment b :  a grave crime declared to be a felony by the common law or by statute regardless of the punishment actually imposed c :  a crime declared a felony by statute because of the punishment imposed d :  a crime for which the punishment in federal law may be death or imprisonment for more than one year

Examples of felony in a sentence

  1. The crime is considered a felony under state law.

  2. He was convicted of felony murder.

14th Century

First Known Use of felony

14th century

FELONY Defined for Kids


noun fel·o·ny \ˈfe-lə-nē\

Definition of felony for Students

plural felonies

  1. :  a very serious crime

Law Dictionary


noun fel·o·ny \ˈfe-lə-nē\

Legal Definition of felony

plural felonies

  1. :  a crime that has a greater punishment imposed by statute than that imposed on a misdemeanor; specifically :  a federal crime for which the punishment may be death or imprisonment for more than a year — see also attainder, treason

Additional Notes on felony

Originally in English law a felony was a crime for which the perpetrator would suffer forfeiture of all real and personal property as well as whatever sentence was imposed. Under U.S. law, there is no forfeiture of all of the felon's property (real or personal) and such forfeiture is not part of the definition of a felony. For certain crimes, however (as for a conviction under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or a narcotics law), specific property, such as that used in or gained by the crime, is subject to forfeiture. Every state has its own statutory definition of a felony. Most are in line with the federal definition of a felony as a crime which carries a sentence of imprisonment for more than one year or the death penalty (where applicable). Other states, like Louisiana, define a felony as a crime which carries a sentence of death or imprisonment at hard labor.

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