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misdemeanor,in law, a minor crime, in contrast to a felonyfelony
, any grave crime, in contrast to a misdemeanor, that is so declared in statute or was so considered in common law. In early English law a felony was a heinous act that canceled the perpetrator's feudal rights and forfeited his lands and goods to the king, thus depriving
..... Click the link for more information. . At common lawcommon law,
system of law that prevails in England and in countries colonized by England. The name is derived from the medieval theory that the law administered by the king's courts represented the common custom of the realm, as opposed to the custom of local jurisdiction that
..... Click the link for more information. a misdemeanor was a crime other than treason or a felony. Although it might be a grave offense, it did not affect the feudal bond or take away the offender's property. By the 19th cent. serious crimes were labeled felonies, and minor crimes misdemeanors. In the United States a misdemeanor usually is an offense that may be punished summarily by fine and by imprisonment for less than a year. Commission of a misdemeanor does not cancel citizenship or subject an alienalien,
in law, any person residing in one political community while owing allegiance to another. A procedure known as naturalization permits aliens to become citizens.
Each nation establishes conditions upon which aliens will be admitted, and makes laws concerning them.
..... Click the link for more information. to deportation. In some states of the United States certain minor law violations are not even classified as misdemeanors, e.g., traffic offenses and breach of municipal regulations.
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Criminal law (formerly) an offence generally less heinous than a felony and which until 1967 involved a different form of trial
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005