A person who commits a felony is called a felon. A felony is a serious crime; what constitutes a felony differs from state to state, but in every state, crimes fall into three categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
An infraction is a petty offense punishable by small fines. An infraction cannot result in a jail sentence, so the person accused of one is not entitled to a jury trial. In some states, a traffic violation is an infraction; in others, a traffic ticket may be a civil offense.
A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that can be punished by up to a year in jail. Instead of receiving a jail sentence, offenders who commit a misdemeanor may be punished by the payment of a fine, restitution, probation, and/or community service. Defendants charged with a misdemeanor are entitled to a jury trial. In some states, selling cigarettes to a minor is a misdemeanor.
A felony is the most serious category. A felony involves serious physical harm or threat of harm, for example, assault with a deadly weapon, forcing a person to participate in prostitution, attacking a family member, attacking a stranger, etc. Felonies are further classified according to the perceived level of seriousness: Class A Felonies, Class B Felonies, etc.
Felons are often referred to in the media as “convicted felons”:
Baltimore Convicted Felon Exiled to Over 9 Years in Prison
Convicted felon bails on job
Angry sheriff questions how convicted felon escaped again
Convicted felon shoots dogs at Gulfport residence
The AP Stylebook defines felon as “a person who has been convicted of a felony, regardless of whether the individual actually spends time in confinement or is given probation or a fine instead.”
Once a person has been convicted of a felony, the person is a felon. As the AP points out, referring to a felon as “a convicted felon” is redundant.
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