In English law. This term meant originally the state of having forfeited lands and goods to the crown upon conviction for certain offenses, and then, by transition, any offense upon conviction for which such forfeiture followed, in addition to any other punishment prescribed by law; as distinguished from a “misdemeanor,” upon conviction for which no forfeiture followed.All indictable offenses are either felonies or misdemeanors, but a material part of the distinction is taken away by St. 33 & 34 Vict c. 2″. which abolishes Wharton.
In American law. The term has no very definite or precise meaning, except in some cases where it is defined by statute. For the most part, the state laws, in describing any particular offense, declare whether or not it shall be considered a felony. Apart from this, the word seems merely to imply a crime of a graver or more atrocious nature than those designated as “misdemeanors.” U. S. v. Coppersmith (C. C.) 4 Fed. 205; Bannon v. U. S., 150 U. S. 404, 15 Sup. Ct. 407, 39 L. Ed. 494; Mitchell v. State. 42 Ohio St.3S0; State v. Lincoln, 49 N. II. 409.
The statutes or codes of several of the states define felony as any public offense or conviction of which the offender is liable to be sentenced to death or to imprisonment in a penitentiary or state prison. Pub. St. Mass. 18S2, p. 1290; Code Ala. 1SS0,
See, e.g., How to Get Small Business Grants for Felons