Which crimes are considered felonies and what is a typical punishment for felonies?
The label felony is defined as a serious crime. The word originates from common law, where felonies were originally crimes involving 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 offenses and summary offenses.
A person who has committed a felony is a felon. In addition, upon conviction of a felony in a court of law, a person is known as a convicted felon or a convict. In the United States, where the felony/misdemeanor distinction still applies, 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 actual prison sentence handed out has no effect on the classification, which is based on the maximum sentence possible under law.
Individual states may differ in that definition by using other categories, such as seriousness or context.
Similar to felonies in some civil law countries like Italy and Spain, are delicts, but in others like Germany, France, Belgium, and Switzerland, crimes are more serious and delicts (or délits) are less serious. In still others, such as Brazil and Portugal, crimes and delicts are synonymous (more serious) and are opposed to contraventions (less serious).