Felony Law & Legal Definition


In general, a felony is an offense for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year is authorized. Felonies are serious crimes, such as murder, rape, or burglary, punishable by a harsher sentence than that given for a misdemeanor.

The sentence for a felonious crime under state law will be served in a state prison, since a year or less can be served in county jail. However, a sentence upon conviction for a felony may sometimes be less than one year at the discretion of the judge and within limits set by statute.

Felonies may be classified by level of seriousness. More serious felonies carry harsher penalties. The classification of felonies varies by jurisdiction and crime. Typically, when felonies are classified into categories, a Class A felony is more severely punished than lower level Class B and even lower level Class C felonies. The statute of limitations varies by jurisdiction and type of felony.

Example of a State statute on Class F felony Theft.

In Delaware, a person is guilty of theft when he or she takes, exercises control over or obtains property of another person intending to deprive that person of it or appropriate it. Generally the crime of theft amounts to a class A misdemeanor. However when the value of the property received, retained or disposed of is $ 1,500 or more, it is a class G felony. Likewise Where a victim is 62 years of age or older, or an "infirm adult" or a "disabled person" theft is a class G felony. However if the value of the property received, retained or disposed of is $ 1,500 or more, in which case it is a class F felony. If the value of the property received, retained or disposed of is more than $ 50,000 but less than $ 100,000, theft is a class E felony. Where the value of the property received, retained or disposed of is $ 100,000 or more, theft is a class C felony. Upon conviction, the sentencing judge shall require full restitution to the victim for any monetary losses suffered and shall consider the imposition of community service and/or an appropriate curfew for a minor.

The relevant portion of the statute reads as follows:

11 Del. C. § 841 Theft; class G felony; class A misdemeanor; restitution

(a) A person is guilty of theft when the person takes, exercises control over or obtains property of another person intending to deprive that person of it or appropriate it. Theft includes the acts described in this section, as well as those described in §§ 841A-846 of this title.

(b) A person is guilty of theft if the person, in any capacity, legally receives takes, exercises control over or obtains property of another which is the subject of theft, and fraudulently converts same to the person's own use.

(c) (1) Except where a victim is 62 years of age or older, or an "infirm adult" as defined in § 3902(1) of Title 31, or a "disabled person" as defined in § 3901(a)(2) of Title 12, theft is a class A misdemeanor unless the value of the property received, retained or disposed of is $ 1,500 or more, in which case it is a class G felony.

(2) Where a victim is 62 years of age or older, or an "infirm adult" as defined in § 3902(1) of Title 31, or a "disabled person" as defined in § 3901(a)(2) of Title 12, theft is a class G felony unless the value of the property received, retained or disposed of is $ 1,500 or more, in which case it is a class F felony.

(3) Notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection:

a. Where the value of the property received, retained or disposed of is more than $ 50,000 but less than $ 100,000, theft is a class E felony;

b. Where the value of the property received, retained or disposed of is $ 100,000 or more, theft is a class C felony.

(d) Upon conviction, the sentencing judge shall require full restitution to the victim for any monetary losses suffered and shall consider the imposition of community service and/or an appropriate curfew for a minor.