felony

FEL'ONY, n. [See Felon.] In common law, any crime which incurs the forfeiture of lands or goods. Treason was formerly comprised under the name of felony, but is now distinguished from crimes thus denominated, although it is really a felony. All offenses punishable with death are felonies; and so are some crimes not thus punished, as suicide, homicide by chance-medley, or in self-defense, and petty larceny. Capital punishment therefore does not necessarily enter into the true idea or definition of felony; the true criterion of felony being forfeiture of lands or goods. But the idea of felony has been so generally connected with that of capital punishment, that law and usage now confirm that connection. Thus if a statute makes any new offense a felony, it is understood to mean a crime punishable with death.