Felony, a serious crime. A less serious crime is called a misdemeanor. The definition of a felony varies from state to state, but such crimes as murder, rape, arson, kidnapping, and robbery are always classed as felonies.

A felony is usually punishable by imprisonment for a year or more in a state or federal penitentiary. The death penalty may be imposed in the case of more serious crimes, such as murder. When a statute does not define a crime as either a felony or a misdemeanor, the distinction is indicated by the type of punishment prescribed. In most states, a person convicted of a felony usually loses permanently certain civil rights, such as the right to vote.