A felony is a serious crime. More harmful or impactful to society than a misdemeanor, a felony is punishable by heavier penalties than minor crimes. Committing a felony in the United States not only leads to immediate consequences, but leaves a long-term stain on the individual’s record as well, a fact that can prevent the individual from obtaining quality employment, for example.
Felonies are divided into two major categories: violent and non-violent crimes. A person who is convicted of committing a felony is referred to as a felon. Technically, the federal definition states that a felony is a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year. Misdemeanors are punishable by a year or less in jail.
While these statements may seem clear enough, each state varies in how it interprets these definitions, looking at the seriousness of the crime or the context of the crime. Thus, each state has its own system for classifying felony crimes.
In New York, felonies are classified by the letter, sometimes including subcategories identified by Roman numerals. For example, class A-I would be the most serious of all felony crimes. In Virginia, felonies are categorized by number with Class 1 being the most severe and Class 6 the least.
Felony crimes are classified into categories including: Rape, murder, robbery, arson, assault and/or battery, burglary, kidnapping, drug crimes (manufacture, possession, sale, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute), grand larceny or grand theft, and vandalism. In all states, felony crimes are taken very seriously and while the punishments may vary, they are nonetheless consequences that fit the severity of the crime.