Felony
Felony Fel"o*ny, n.; pl. {Felonies}. [OE. felonie cruelty, OF. felonie, F. f['e]lonie treachery, malice. See {Felon}, n.] 1. (Feudal Law) An act on the part of the vassal which cost him his fee by forfeiture. --Burrill. [1913 Webster]

2. (O.Eng.Law) An offense which occasions a total forfeiture either lands or goods, or both, at the common law, and to which capital or other punishment may be added, according to the degree of guilt. [1913 Webster]

3. A heinous crime; especially, a crime punishable by death or imprisonment. [1913 Webster]

Note: Forfeiture for crime having been generally abolished in the United States, the term felony, in American law, has lost this point of distinction; and its meaning, where not fixed by statute, is somewhat vague and undefined; generally, however, it is used to denote an offense of a high grade, punishable either capitally or by a term of imprisonment. In Massachusetts, by statute, any crime punishable by death or imprisonment in the state prison, and no other, is a felony; so in New York. the tendency now is to obliterate the distinction between felonies and misdemeanors; and this has been done partially in England, and completely in some of the States of the Union. The distinction is purely arbitrary, and its entire abolition is only a question of time. [1913 Webster]

Note: There is no lawyer who would undertake to tell what a felony is, otherwise than by enumerating the various kinds of offenses which are so called. originally, the word felony had a meaning: it denoted all offenses the penalty of which included forfeiture of goods; but subsequent acts of Parliament have declared various offenses to be felonies, without enjoining that penalty, and have taken away the penalty from others, which continue, nevertheless, to be called felonies, insomuch that the acts so called have now no property whatever in common, save that of being unlawful and purnishable. --J. S. Mill. [1913 Webster]

{To compound a felony}. See under {Compound}, v. t. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Synonyms:
(punishable by death or by imprisonment), , ,


Look at other dictionaries:

  • felony — fel·o·ny / fe lə nē/ n pl nies: a crime that has a greater punishment imposed by statute than that imposed on a misdemeanor; specif: a federal crime for which the punishment may be death or imprisonment for more than a year see also attainder,… …   Law dictionary

  • felony — fel‧o‧ny [ˈfeləni] noun felonies PLURALFORM [countable, uncountable] LAW a serious crime such as murder: • Citizens had a legal duty to reveal felonies known to them. • He will answer charges of felony. • The U.S. Attorney s Office indicted the… …   Financial and business terms

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  • felony — late 13c. as a term in common law, in Anglo Fr., from O.Fr. felonie (12c.) wickedness, evil, treachery, perfidy, crime, cruelty, sin, from Gallo Rom. *fellonia, from fellonem (see FELON (Cf. felon)) …   Etymology dictionary

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  • felony — ► NOUN (pl. felonies) ▪ a crime, typically one involving violence, regarded in the US and other judicial systems as more serious than a misdemeanour. DERIVATIVES felonious adjective feloniously adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • felony — [fel′ə nē] n. pl. felonies [ME felonie < OFr < ML felonia, treason, treachery < felo, FELON1] a major crime, as murder, arson, or rape, for which statute usually provides a greater punishment than for a misdemeanor: the usual minimum… …   English World dictionary

  • Felony — For other uses, see Felony (disambiguation). Criminal law …   Wikipedia

  • felony — noun (AmE) ADJECTIVE ▪ federal ▪ serious ▪ first degree, second degree, third degree ▪ aggravated ▪ …   Collocations dictionary

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