Difference Between Felony & Crime

Felony vs Crime

Many people believe there is no difference between a felony and a crime, and that the two terms can be used interchangeably. However, this is not accurate, as not every jurisdiction has the term felony incorporated into its penal statutes or criminal law. Felony can be thought of as a category or group of crimes that falls under the main pool of crimes.

What is a Felony?

Felony is defined as a grave or serious crime punishable by death or imprisonment. The minimum limit of a term of imprisonment is one year. In jurisdictions that recognize felonies, such as the United States, they constitute the most serious type of offense or criminal act. Felonies typically refer to crimes that involve serious or grave physical harm or threat of harm and include white collar crimes and fraud. The distinctive feature of a felony is the consequences attached to it. Therefore, the more serious the act, the greater the punishment. These punishments include the death penalty, a term of imprisonment ranging from one year to life imprisonment, and the payment of fines. Examples of felonies are crimes such as murder, robbery, burglary, arson, rape, manslaughter, and kidnapping. Felonies are further divided into different classes or categories, and this division and/or classification may differ from country to country.

What is a Crime?

Traditionally, the term crime has been defined as an act or the commission of an act that is considered harmful and dangerous to the public for which the person committing the act will be punished under the law. Such acts are typically set out in the law governing crime and specifically prohibit the commission of such acts. In simple terms, a crime is an offense against the law or a violation of the law that results in harm or injury to the public or a member of the public. The consequence of such a violation is punishment either by way of payment of fines, rehabilitation, imprisonment, or the death penalty. A crime in certain jurisdictions may be further classified into subcategories such as felonies and misdemeanors. There are two vital elements that make up a crime, or rather, it is composed of two elements, namely, the physical and mental element. These elements are traditionally referred to as the actus reus and mens rea of a crime. Thus, a crime can include serious crimes or minor crimes.

What is the difference between Felony and Crime?

  • A felony refers to a serious crime such as murder, arson, rape, or robbery for which the punishment is death or imprisonment for a minimum term of one year.
  • A crime, in contrast, refers to an act or the commission of an act that is against the law and considered dangerous and harmful to the public.
  • A felony is a type of category within the sphere of crime. Thus, a crime can also include minor crimes such as shoplifting, theft, and others.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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