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Felony

Felony

A felony, as applied to common law, is any crime generally punishable by more than one year in prison or by death. It is the second in seriousness of the three classifications of crimes: it is punished more severely than a misdemeanor (the least serious classification that covers minor offenses) but usually not as seriously as treason (the most serious classification). Examples of felonies are: assaults that cause serious bodily injury; murder ; rape or sexual abuse in the first degree; grand theft; kidnapping; serious drug crimes; and racketeering.

The distinction between felonies and misdemeanors is not always clear, but generally any crime that has a sentence of only a fine or confinement in a local jail is not a felony. However, the offense may not be labeled a felony, but the punishment may make the offense a felony. For example, a state code could label a crime as an aggravated misdemeanor but provide for a sentence of more than one year in a state penitentiary, thereby treating the so-called misdemeanor as a felony.

Forensic science uses sophisticated laboratory techniques to solve felonies by detecting the presence of substances in the victim or suspected criminal, or at the crime scene. For instance, while investigating a murderous felony that involves a firearm, a scanning electron microscope can magnify objects 100,000 times in order to detect the minute gunpowder particles present on the hand of any suspect who has recently fired a gun. These particles can also be chemically analyzed to identify their ballistic origin from a particular bullet in order to match it with the bullet found within a victim.

In 1987, as an important example of using forensic evidence to decide a felony case, Tommy Lee Andrews became the first American ever convicted of a felony that utilized forensic DNA evidence. During the night of February 21, 1987, a break-in, burglary, and rape at knifepoint occurred at a Florida woman's home. During the next six months, law enforcement officials felt that the same man continued to commit over twenty felonious acts. In one case, Andrews' fingerprints were found on a window of a prowled house. Further, DNA samples of semen taken from several rape victims matched blood drawn from Andrews, while one rape victim made a positive identification of him. With overwhelming amounts of traditional and forensic evidence, Andrews was arrested and tried in court.

Since a DNA sample during the Andrews case was considered new scientific technology, it had to pass tests of acceptability in order to be used as testimony in the felony trial. That is, DNA analysis had to prove to be scientifically reliable in interpretation, method, and theory, and it had to be positively reviewed by peers. Passing all of these strict criteria, Andrews was initially sentenced to a twenty-two year prison sentence for the felonies of burglary, aggravated burglary, and rape. He was eventually tried for serial rape and convicted to a 115-year sentence.

In the 1980s no state had DNA databases, but after forensic evidence was shown to help convict felony lawbreakers, state courts and legislatures began to see how effective DNA was as evidence. They soon began to establish state DNA databases in order to assist law enforcement officials. Today, all fifty states require the collection of DNA samples into DNA databases for certain types of felons. Furthermore, in the first ten years of using forensic DNA evidence, the FBI reported DNA evidence being used in deciding over 6,800 felony cases.

see also Misdemeanor.

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felony

felony (fĕl´ənē), any grave crime, in contrast to a misdemeanor, that is so declared in statute or was so considered in common law. In early English law a felony was a heinous act that canceled the perpetrator's feudal rights and forfeited his lands and goods to the king, thus depriving his prospective heirs of their inheritance. The accused might be tried by an appeal of felony, i.e., personal combat with his accuser, the losing party to be adjudged a felon (see ordeal). The appeal of felony was gradually replaced by rational modes of trial and was altogether abolished in England in 1819. In addition to the forfeiture of his property, the convicted felon usually suffered death, long imprisonment, or banishment. Death was an especially common English penalty in the 18th and the early 19th cent. To the list of common-law felonies—including murder, rape, theft, arson, and suicide—many others were added by statute. With the abolition of forfeitures in England in 1870 the felony acquired essentially its modern character. Felony is used in various senses in the United States. In federal law, any crime punishable by death or more than one year's imprisonment is a felony. This definition is followed in some states; in others the common-law definition is retained, or else statutes specifically label certain crimes as felonies. Other possible consequences of committing a felony are loss of the rights of citizenship, deportation if the felon is an alien, and liability to a more severe sentence for successive offenses. Felonies are usually tried by jury, and in some states the accused must first have been indicted by a grand jury.

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Felony

FELONY

A serious crime, characterized under federal law and many state statutes as any offense punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year.

Under the early common law, felonies were crimes involving moral turpitude, those which violated the moral standards of a community. Later, however, crimes that did not involve mortal turpitude became included in the definition of a felony.

Presently many state statutes list various classes of felonies with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the offense. Crimes classified as felonies include, among others, treason, arson, murder, rape, robbery, burglary, manslaughter, and kidnapping.

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felony

felony Indictable criminal offence. In British law, until 1967, felonies were distinguished from misdemeanours (crimes of a less serious nature). In US federal law, the distiction remains, with a felony being defined as any crime punishable by more than one year's imprisonment.

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"felony." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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felony

fel·o·ny / ˈfelənē/ • n. (pl. -nies) a crime, typically one involving violence, regarded as more serious than a misdemeanor: he pleaded guilty to six felonies an accusation of felony.

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"felony." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"felony." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 14, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/felony-0

"felony." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved December 14, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/felony-0

felony

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