(A) A serious crime (contrasted with misdemeanors and infractions, less serious crimes), usually punishable by a prison term of more than one year or, in some cases, by death. For example, murder, extortion and kidnapping are felonies; a minor fist fight is usually charged as a misdemeanor, and a speeding ticket is generally an infraction. (B) crimes. An offence which occasions a total forfeiture of. either lands or goods, or both, at common law, to which capital or other punishment may be super-added, according to the degree of guilt.
Law Dictionary – Alternative Legal Definition
In English law. This term meant originally the state of having forfeited lands and goods to the crown upon conviction for certain offenses, and then, by transition, any offense upon conviction for which such forfeiture followed, in addition to any other punishment prescribed by law; as distinguished from a “misdemeanor,” upon conviction for which no forfeiture followed. All indictable offenses are either felonies or misdemeanors, but a material part of the distinction is taken away by St 33 & 34 Viet c. 23, which abolishes forfeiture for felony. Wharton.
In American law. The term has no very definite or precise meaning, except in some cases where it is defined by statute. For the most part, the state laws, in describing any particular offense, declare whether or not it shall be considered a felony. Apart from this, the word seems merely to imply a crime of a graver or more atrocious nature than those designated as “misdemeanors.”
The statutes or codes of several of the states define felony as any public offense on conviction of which the offender is liable to be sentenced to death or to imprisonment in a penitentiary or state prison.
In feudal law. An act or offense on the part of the vassal, which cost him his fee, or in consequence of which his fee fell into the hands of his lord; that is, became forfeited. (See FELONIA.) Perfidy, ingratitude, or disloyallty to a lord. Felony act. The statute 33 A 34 Vict. c. 23, abolishing forfeitures for felony, and sanctioning the appointment of interim curators and administrators of the property of felons. Mozley & Whitley; 4 Steph. Comm. 10, 459. Felony, compounding of. See COMPOUNDING FELONY. Misprision of felony. See MISPRISION.