Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Felony

Quick Summary of Felony

A serious criminal offense, which, under federal law, is punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.

What is the dictionary definition of Felony?

Dictionary Definition

U.S., legal A serious criminal offence, which, under federal law, is punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year or by death.

A serious crime (contrasted with misdemeanours 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 misdemeanour, and a speeding ticket is generally an infraction.

n. 1) a crime sufficiently serious to be punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison, as distinguished from a misdemeanor which is only punishable by confinement to county or local jail and/or a fine. 2) a crime carrying a minimum term of one year or more in state prison, since a year or less can be served in county jail. However, a sentence upon conviction for a felony may sometimes be less than one year at the discretion of the judge and within limits set by statute. Felonies are sometimes referred to as “high crimes” as described in the U.S. Constitution.

Full Definition of Felony

At common law, a felony was a particularly serious offence.

The distinction between felony and misdemeanour is now largely abolished. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person’s land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanours. Most common law countries have now abolished the felony/misdemeanour distinction and replaced it with other distinctions such as between summary offences and indictable offences.

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Modern Language Association (MLA):
Felony. PayrollHeaven.com. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. September 23, 2021 https://payrollheaven.com/define/felony/.
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Felony. PayrollHeaven.com. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. https://payrollheaven.com/define/felony/ (accessed: September 23, 2021).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Felony. PayrollHeaven.com. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from PayrollHeaven.com website: https://payrollheaven.com/define/felony/

Definition Sources

Definitions for Felony are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 28th April, 2020 | 2 Views.