Free US Law Dictionary BETA
The term felony is used in common law systems for very serious crimes, whereas misdemeanors are considered to be less serious offenses. This distinction is principally used in criminal law in the United States legal system, where the federal government generally considers a crime punishable by more than five days up to a year in jail to be a misdemeanor, while considering crimes punishable by greater than a year in prison to be felonies; crimes of five days or less in jail, or no jail at all, are considered infractions.
The distinction between a felony and misdemeanor has been abolished by most other common law jurisdictions (e.g. Crimes Act 1958 (Vic., Australia) s. 332B(1), Crimes Act 1900 (NSW., Australia) s. 580E(1)). Those jurisdictions have generally adopted some other classification, e.g. in Canada, Australia, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom the crimes are divided into summary offences and indictable offences.
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