What is Felony

What is Felony?


In the United States and in other countries, the crime of felony is considered very serious. The term comes from English common law where it originally referred to a crime involving the amputation of the lands and goods of a person found guilty of the act. Other crimes were termed misdemeanors. Majority of the common law countries have eradicated the distinction between felony and misdemeanor. They use other distinctions instead, such as between indictable offenses and summary offenses.

Is Felony a Crime?

The United States is one of the exceptions among these countries. To the present, the U.S Federal government classifies a felony as a crime which has a corresponding sentence of either more than one year imprisonment or death penalty. Misdemeanor is a classification of crimes punishable by a year or less.

Forms of felony

Felonies include crimes such as murder, rape, aggravated assault and/or battery, illegal use or sales of drugs, arson, burglary, robbery, grand theft and vandalism on national property. Broad classifications of felonies depend on the circumstances when the act was committed – it could either be violent or non – violent.

Some offenses may be considered as felonies or misdemeanors. The circumstances play a significant deciding factor. For instance the possession of a deadly weapon is known to be generally illegal, however the offense becomes more serious when the same weapon is brought into a constrained area such as a school, regardless whether the offender intends to use the weapon or not. Some convicted of felony may face one or more years of imprisonment but in more serious forms of felonies like murder, death penalty is also probable.

Punishment for Felony

In 1776 at common law when both the British and American legal systems separated, felonies were punishable by death or confiscation of property. The penalties have been adjusted in modern times depending on the severity of the offense. The sentences could range from something as minor as probation or imprisonment to something as severe as execution for murder or other grave offenses. In the United States, convicted felons are deprived of the comforts of a normal citizen such as the loss of the right of suffrage in many states, loss of opportunities to work in certain industries or difficulty in getting employment. One may also be prohibited from acquiring certain licenses, or firearms, bullets and body armor. Moreover, one may lose his right to acquire a position in any public office. In some states, the conviction of felony may also be used as basis for uncontested divorce. These privileges that will be deprived from a felon are termed as collateral consequences of criminal charges. Aside from the privileges listed, the judge may include other loss of privileges upon sentencing. Lastly, a felon who is not a citizen of the United States will be deported after he has served his sentence.

This article is not intended to give legal advice.

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