A felony is a serious crime in the common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

s. Many common law countries have now abolished the felony/misdemeanor distinction and replaced it with other distinctions such as between indictable offence
Indictable offence
In many common law jurisdictions , an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury...

s and summary offence
Summary offence
A summary offence is a criminal act in some common law jurisdictions that can be proceeded with summarily, without the right to a jury trial and/or indictment .- United States :...

s. A felony is generally considered to be a crime of "high seriousness
Seriousness is an attiude of gravity, solemnity, persistence, and earnestness toward something considered to be of importance....

", while a misdemeanor is not.

A person convicted in a court of law of a felony crime is known as a felon.