In the United States, a felony is a crime that may be punished by a prison term of more than six months or a fine over a certain dollar amount. The term for the same type of offence in the Commonwealth countries is an indictable offence.

A trial for an felony must be authorized by an indictment and not just an information. Depending on the state, the indictment can be issued by a grand jury (e.g. New York), or by a judge after a preliminary hearing (e.g. California). The prosecutor must show to the satisfaction of the grand jury or the judge that reasonable and probable cause exists to believe the defendant committed the crime.

Defendants are entitled to a jury trial for all felonies under the provisions of the Sixth Amendment. However, for non-capital offences, the defendant may elect in some jurisdictions to proceed before a judge alone.