Definition of felony
1 : an act on the part of a feudal vassal (see vassal 1) involving the forfeiture of his fee
2a : a grave crime formerly differing from a misdemeanor (see misdemeanor 1) under English common law by involving forfeiture in addition to any other punishmentb : a grave crime (as murder or rape) declared to be a felony by the common law or by statute regardless of the punishment actually imposedc : a crime declared a felony by statute because of the punishment imposedd : 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
The crime is considered a felony under state law.
He was convicted of felony murder.
Did You Know?
In US law, a felony is typically defined as a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than one year or by the death penalty. Misdemeanors, in contrast, are often defined as offenses punishable only by fines or by short terms of imprisonment in local jails. 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 US law, there is no forfeiture of all of the felon’s property, and it is not part of the definition. For certain crimes, however, such as some kinds of racketeering, specific property is subject to forfeiture.
Origin and Etymology of felony
First Known Use: 14th century
FELONY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of felony for English Language Learners
law : a serious crime (such as murder or rape)
FELONY Defined for Kids
Definition of felony for Students
: a very serious crime
Legal Definition of felony
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.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up felony? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).