The Difference between a Summary and Indictable Offence

The Difference between a Summary and Indictable Offence

Criminal offences are divided into three classes of offences. These classes include summary offences, indictable offences and hybrid offences. A summary offence is when the Crown decides or elects to prosecute it. Hire a criminal lawyer to represent you if an offence is summary or Indictable.

Hybrid offences are a mix of summary and indictable offences. When a case involves a hybrid offence, the Crown can choose whether to treat the offence as a more serious indictable offence based on the actions of the accused and the harm committed. The class of offence, whether indictable or summary, dictates the seriousness of the offence and influences the level of court, sentencing, and appeal routes.



What is a Summary Offence?

Essentially, a summary offence is a less serious offence. A summary offence is not something that is aggressively pursued by the police. The person charged with a crime is notified of the date when they must appear in court. If you do not report a crime to the police within 6 months, then it will be more serious.

A police officer cannot arrest somebody for a summary offense. A person charged with a summary conviction offence does not always have to appear in court. A criminal lawyer may represent a person unless the judge specifically requests that they show up in court. Summary offences carry a maximum prison sentence of two years or a maximum fine of $5000 or both.



What is an Indictable Offence?

An indictable offence involves a more serious criminal offence. Police officers may arrest a person if they think the person has committed or is about to commit a crime. A person charged with an indictable offence must appear in court.

When charged with an indictable offence, you will appear before the Ontario provincial Court of Justice or an Ontario Superior Court of Justice. This determination will be based on the offence committed. 

One type of court is provincial, which handles smaller offenses. The other is higher courts, which deal with more serious matters. These offences fall into two categories.

1. No Election possible: for less serious indictable offences listed in s. If you’re charged with an offence according to 553 of the Criminal Code, your case will be heard in a provincial court instead.

2. Election possible: for all other indictable offences, the accused may choose the form of trial. The accused can elect between a trial by judge alone in a provincial court or a trial by judge and jury in a superior court. You could be facing criminal charges, and you might not know what they are. You need an experienced criminal lawyer who knows how to handle these types of cases



Offences and Rights of Appeal

A person convicted of an offence can appeal to the following:

1. Conviction

2. Sentence

3. The Finding of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder

4. Finding that the accused was not fit to stand trial

5. Finding that the accused is a dangerous or long-term offender

The type of offence, summary or indictable, will limit an accused’s persons route of appeal and whether they can appeal “as of right”. “As of right” essentially means automatically, without being prevented from going forward with an appeal.

If you have committed an offence, whether indictable or summary, it is important to seek legal advice and representation. Our experienced Criminal Lawyers can discuss your matter in more detail, represent you, and help you prepare for any judicial proceedings to come.

This article only provides general information. For more information please contact our office to book a free initial consultation. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here

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