Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
A felony, in contrast to a misdemeanor, is a more serious and harmful offense to society. Rooted in common-law tradition, felonies in most states are offenses punishable by imprisonment for one or more years or death. Misdemeanor offenders receive sentences for less than a year and serve their time in local jails. However, the same offense can be either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the degree of harm, potential danger to society posed by the offender, number of times an offender commits the same offense, or amount of property stolen. Felony convictions first appeared in England in the 12th century and, following common-law practice, led to forfeiture of assets ...