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Felony (noun) – A crime punishable by death or imprisonment for at least one year. Felony is the highest classification of criminal offenses, which are generally divided into felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. In states with criminal statutes based on the Model Penal Code, an offense must both be designated as a felony in the statute and carry with it a penalty exceeding one year of imprisonment.

At common law, felony included specific crimes that were punishable by attainder or death, and although this designation eventually included crimes with lesser punishments, it was usually reserved for the most serious offenses—murder, mayhem, rape, larceny, robbery, burglary, and arson. In some jurisdictions, “high misdemeanor” is still used to describe offenses that are felonies elsewhere, such as treason, arson, misuse of office, and receiving stolen goods.

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