felonies


Written By: Ehsan Jahandarpour

The term felony, in some common law countries, means a serious crime. The word originates from English common law (from the French medieval word ” félonie “), where felonies were originally crimes that involved confiscation of a convicted person’s land and goods. Other crimes were called misdemeanors. Many common law countries have now abolished the felony/misdemeanor distinction and replaced it with other distinctions, such as between indictable offences and summary offences. A felony is generally considered a crime of high seriousness, while a misdemeanour is not. A person convicted in a court of law of a felony crime is known as a felon. In the United States, where the felony/misdemeanor distinction is still widely applied, the federal government defines a felony as a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year. If punishable by exactly one year or less, it is classified as a misdemeanor. The individual states may differ in this definition, using other categories as seriousness or context. Similar to felonies in some civil law countries (Italy, Spain etc.) are delicts, whereas in others (France, Belgium, Switzerland etc.) crimes (more serious) and delicts (délits, less serious); and still in others (Brazil, Portugal etc.), crimes and delicts are synonymous (more serious), as opposed to contraventions (less serious).