What is a felony?

What is a felony?

Sorting out the different types of crimes can be a tough task – one that sometimes makes us feel like we need a law degree. But don't worry, remember this: a felony is the most serious kind of crime possible. As such, felonies result in the most serious punishment, generally involving more than a year of prison time. All other, "less serious" crimes are misdemeanors.

It's estimated that there are about one million felony convictions in the US each year. And in terms of who exactly is committing these crimes, a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that 3 in 4 people with felony convictions will commit another crime within the next five years.

A List of Felonies

Felonies can be committed at either the federal or state level. A federal felony is investigated by agencies like the FBI or DEA, and prosecuted by the US Attorney General. State felonies are crimes that break state laws, and because of this, state felonies can vary widely from state to state; something that is considered a felony in one state may not be considered a felony in another state.

Some crimes are considered both a federal and a state felony, as they break laws set at both levels. Felonies usually relate to a serious threat to a person or property. Below is a general list of felonies, but you'll want to check your state's specific regulations:

  1. Assault
  2. Murder
  3. DUI/DWI (generally only a felony if the offender has a prior DUI/DWI conviction)
  4. Domestic violence
  5. Drug crimes
  6. Kidnapping

Felonies and Criminal Background Checks

All felony convictions will show up on a criminal background check. However, if the background check is run in a state that is different from the one in which the felony was committed, it may not show up. For employers, this means that if you have a suspicion there may be a felony conviction in an applicant's past, you may want to search other states you know he or she lived in previously.

So, What Is a Felony?

Felony convictions are serious business. They include most crimes that are against other people or their property, and are usually punishable with more than a year in prison. Applicants with felony convictions will want to familiarize themselves with their rights before starting a job hunt, while employers should have a clear sense of their own rights in terms of labor laws as they look to fill a position.

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