In some of the earliest documented felony records, felonies connoted grave crimes punishable by a forfeiture of all of an offender's assets, or in the worst-case scenario, death. Derived from the words "felon" and "felonie," which in old French were used to describe a wicked individual or a wicked action, respectively, the implication of felonies has remained somewhat the same in that it is still one of the greatest criminal offenses possible within the legal system. Since those first felony records, however, a broad range of different classifications have been assigned for felonies, which first puts them into non-violent classes and degrees
In general, felonies are descriptive of serious crimes, both violent or non-violent in nature, which result in a punishment of fines, and in nearly all cases, a prison sentence of at least one year. Other punishments, like community service, probation, rehabilitation programs, and a loss of certain rights are also commonly affixed to felonies according to felony records. In addition, felonies are distinguished by what many criminal lawyers will term a"mens rea," or guilty mind, associated with a particular case. What this means in the simplest sense is that the crime in question was performed with a good amount of reasonable intent. Thus, felonies are only genuinely added to felony records under certain specific conditions.
Once convicted of a felony, offenders' felony records will often not be expunged or cleared for some time, resulting in a wide range of problems for many within the workforce. In contrast to misdemeanor crimes, which in many ways are considered the less severe of all criminal crimes committed- like public intoxication, for instance- many felonies are outlawed by both State and Federal governments, so the severity of the crime immediately increases.
Most convictions, though, are administered on a State-level since the majority of crimes committed have occurred within the boundaries of a State, and not on Federal soil or regarding Federal well-being. Felony records, thus, extend on both the Federal and the State levels.