Definition of Felony

A crime of a graver or more serious nature than those designated as misdemeanors; e.g., aggravated assault (felony) as contrasted with simple assault (misdemeanor). Under many state statutes, any offense punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. See, e.g., Model Penal Code § 1.04(2); 18 U.S.C.A. § 1. The federal and many state criminal codes define felony status crimes, and in turn also have various classes of felonies {e.g., Class A, B, C, etc.) or degrees (e.g., first, second, third) with varying sentences for each class. See, e.g., 18 U.S.C.A. § 3559; Model Penal Code § 6.01.

At common law, an offense occasioning total forfeiture of either land or goods to which capital or other punishment might be superadded according to degree of guilt. At early common law the term was applied to describe the more serious offenses cognizable in the royal courts, conviction for which entailed forfeiture of life, limb and chattels and escheat of lands to the felon’s lord after a year and a day in the king’s hands. Subsequently, however, the classification was so greatly enlarged that many offenses not involving moral turpitude were included therein. In re Donegan, 282 N.Y. 285, 26 N.E. 260, 261. 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 capital or any other punishment prescribed by law; as distinguished from a "misdemeanor,” upon conviction for which no forfeiture followed. In feudal law, the term meant 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 disloyalty to a lord.

Felony, compounding of. See Compounding crime.

Forcible felony. Forcible felony includes any treason, murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, robbery, burglary, arson, kidnapping, aggravated battery, aggravated sodomy and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any person.

Misprision of felony. See Misprision.

Reducible felony. A felony upon conviction of which the offender may be punished as for a misdemeanor, upon recommendation of the jury.

That's the definition of Felony in Black's Law Dictionary 6th Edition. Courtesy of Cekhukum.com.

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