felony

noun
fel·​o·​ny | \ ˈfe-lə-nē How to pronounce felony (audio) \
plural felonies

Definition of felony

1 : an act on the part of a feudal vassal (see vassal sense 1) involving the forfeiture of his fee
2a : a grave crime formerly differing from a misdemeanor (see misdemeanor sense 1) under English common law by involving forfeiture in addition to any other punishment
b : 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 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

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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.

Examples of felony in a Sentence

The crime is considered a felony under state law. He was convicted of felony murder.

Recent Examples on the Web

The driver of the Mitsubishi, Timothy Matthew Caldwell, 19, of Kellyton has been charged with two felony counts for leaving the scene of an accident. Greg Garrison | Ggarrison@al.com, al.com, "Car hits Harley on U.S. 280, kills two," 9 June 2019 The owner of a Ferndale estate sale company pleaded guilty Thursday to multiple felony counts for pocketing money that should have went to clients. Dixita Limbachia, Detroit Free Press, "Center Line man accused of bilking estate sale clients pleads guilty," 7 June 2019 Malkowski pleaded guilty on behalf of the company in federal court in Hartford to a felony count of possession of machine guns not registered to the company. Stephen Singer, courant.com, "Gunmaker Stag Arms announces New Britain exit, though new site not identified," 7 June 2019 The accused are alleged to have committed 26 felonies in Los Angeles County between 2015 and 2018 while leading the religious organization. Maria L. La Ganga, latimes.com, "As church leaders face rape and molestation charges, La Luz del Mundo at a crossroads," 6 June 2019 Werther, a doctor in Willow Grove, was convicted in 2013 of more than 300 felony counts centered around his overprescribing pain medication to dozens of patients. Aubrey Whelan, https://www.inquirer.com, "Two friends shared heroin in a KFC bathroom. One died, one went to prison. Their families are picking up the pieces.," 6 June 2019 State Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Tuesday that Joaquín García has been arrested and charged with committing 26 felonies in Southern California between 2015 and 2018. Fox News, "Leader of La Luz Del Mundo charged with child rape," 5 June 2019 State law allows for pensions to be stripped from officials who commit certain on-the-job felonies. Skyler Swisher, sun-sentinel.com, "Scot Peterson’s pension — $8,702 a month — is on the line in criminal case," 4 June 2019 The defendants are charged with felony counts of mail fraud, conspiracy, and aggravated identity theft. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "How a crew of fraudsters allegedly stole $19 million worth of iPhones," 4 June 2019

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.

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First Known Use of felony

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for felony

see felon entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near felony

felonweed

felonwood

felonwort

felony

fels

felsenmeer

felsic

Statistics for felony

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for felony

The first known use of felony was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for felony

felony

noun

English Language Learners Definition of felony

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

felony

noun
fel·​o·​ny | \ ˈfe-lə-nē How to pronounce felony (audio) \
plural felonies

Kids Definition of felony

: a very serious crime

felony

noun
fel·​o·​ny | \ ˈfe-lə-nē How to pronounce felony (audio) \
plural felonies

Legal Definition of felony

: 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

Note: 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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