Treason Felony Act 1848

The Treason Felony Act 1848 (11 & 12 Vict. c. 12) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Parts of the Act are still in force. It is a law which protects the Queen and the Crown.

The Treason Felony Act 1848[1]
Long titleAn Act for the better Security of the Crown and Government of the United Kingdom.
Citation11 & 12 Vict. c. 12
Territorial extentUnited Kingdom
Dates
Royal assent22 April 1848
Status: Amended
Text of the Treason Felony Act 1848 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.

The offences in the Act were originally high treason under the Sedition Act 1661 (later the Treason Act 1795), and consequently the penalty was death. However it was found that juries were often reluctant to convict people of capital crimes, and it was thought that the conviction rate might increase if the sentence was reduced to exile to the penal colonies in Australia (the penalty is now life imprisonment). Consequently, in 1848 three categories of treason (all derived from the 1795 Act) were reduced to felonies. (This occurred during a period when the death penalty in the United Kingdom was being abolished for a great many offences.) The Act does not prevent prosecutors from charging somebody with treason instead of treason felony if the same conduct amounts to both offences.[2]

It is treason felony to "compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend":

  • to deprive the Queen of her crown,
  • to levy war against the Queen, or
  • to "move or stir" any foreigner to invade the United Kingdom or any other country belonging to the Queen.