felony

play
noun fel·o·ny \ˈfe-lə-nē\

Definition of felony

plural

felonies

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

  2. 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 (such 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

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

  2. He was convicted of felony murder.

Recent Examples of felony from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'felony'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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

see 1felon


FELONY Defined for English Language Learners

felony

play
noun

Definition of felony for English Language Learners

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


FELONY Defined for Kids

felony

play
noun fel·o·ny \ˈfe-lə-nē\

Definition of felony for Students

plural

felonies

  1. :  a very serious crime


Law Dictionary

felony

play
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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