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CRIMINAL LAW.

CHAPTER I.

OF CRIMES AND THEIR DIVISION.

The design of the present work is to present the reader with the various steps which are taken in a criminal prosecution. And it may be as well, at the outset, to say something of crimes in general. All crimes, according to the law of England, are divided into treasons, felonies, and misdemeanors. The offence of treason, at common law, was somewhat indeterminate. The statute 25 Edw. III., c. 2, confirmed by subsequent statutes, determined what offences only for the future should be considered treason. Under this statute, the offence consists of six branches :

1. When a man doth compass or imagine the death of our lord the King, of our lady his Queen, or of their eldest son and heir.

2. If a man do violate the king's companion, or the king's eldest daughter unmarried.

3. If a man do levy war against our lord the King in his realm.

4. If a man be adherent to the king's enemies in his realm, giving to them aid and comfort in the realm or elsewhere.

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5. If a man counterfeit the King's great or privy seal.

6. If a man slay the chancellor, treasurer, or the king's justices of the one bench or the other, justices in eyre, or justices of assize, and all other justices assigned to hear and determine, being in their places doing their offices.

FELONY, in the general acceptation of our English law, comprises every species of crime which occasioned, at common law, the forfeiture of lands and goods. Sir Edward Coke says, that treason was anciently comprised under the name of felony: and in the statute 25 Edw. III., c. 2, speaking of some crimes, we find the following words : —

Whether they be treason or other felony. All treasons are therefore felonies though all felonies are not treasons. Learned but fanciful writers have given many derivations of the word felony. I think Sir Henry Spellman's is the most probable one. Felon, according to him, is derived from two northern words, namely, fee, which signifies fief; and lon, which signifies price or value. Felony is, therefore, the same as "pretium feudi—the consideration for which a man gives up his fief.

These derivations are more amusing than instructive.

MISDEMEANOR is a term generally used in contradistinction to felony, and comprehends all indictable offences which do not amount to felony, as perjury, battery, libels, conspiracies, &c.

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