All you need to know about felonies

The legal terms that are used to describe particular offenses are quite confusing to the common man. Statistics show that it is very few individuals from the non-legal background that can accurately pinpoint the difference between felonies and misdemeanors or lesser offenses. This information is crucial to thriving in the modern society. We often come across situations where our opinions are sought on such issues or when one is required to defend oneself as well as those near and dear to him/her. In such conditions, it is vital to be aware about the various legalities that govern modern laws. In this article, we address the topic of felonies.

Origin of the term

Let us rewind a few years and go back to the medieval ages. During this age, Europe lived under the system of monarchy and the ambient ruler retained the power to create and enforce laws. While the origin of the word itself is French and is derived from the word felonie, the concept is borrowed from old English laws. These laws dictated that the possessions and lands of criminals that committed these crimes would be taken away by the rulers and added to the state coffers. This is the origin of the word and concept of felony.

What classifies as a felony?

Felonies are serious offenses that are punished by the most extreme of sentences. This is because of the gruesome nature of the crimes that classify as felonies. Rapes and armed robbery comes under this section of crimes. Also, manslaughter, homicide and other crimes that intentionally cause the death of individuals can be classified as a felony. Those crimes that are more serious than misdemeanors and cause irreparable harm to the lives of fellow human beings are termed as felonies. These can also be financial crimes on a large scale.

How are felonies punishable by law

Felonies are punishable to various degrees according to the seriousness of the crime committed and the sub-category of felonies that the crime classifies under. The maximum sentence for a felony is the death penalty which is seldom used in the developed countries, but is a sentence regardless. Other punishments include imprisonment in federal facilities for long periods extending up to life as well as hefty fines to be paid to the government. Felonies are direly affected by the immoral nature of the crimes and punishment can thus be quite severe.