If you are charged with a criminal offence in Canada, the crown counsel will decide the type as well as the category of offence that applies to you. The penalties and the proceedings of the court depend on the type of offence you are charged with. Each type of offence is dealt with differently and the maximum or minimum punishments you might receive are also different.
There are three main types of criminal offences:
- Summary Offences
- Indictable Offences
- Hybrid Offences
Summary offences are the least serious. These include relatively shorter prison times and fines less than $5000. Indictable and Hybrid offences are more serious. They might include murder, theft or sexual assault.
In this blog, we have detailed the three types of offences, what they entail, the way they are processed and their penalties.
A summary offence, as mentioned, is the least serious kind of criminal offence in Canada. According to Canada’s Criminal Code, it is a petty crime. It can be an indecent act, breaching a probation order or disturbing the peace.
Hence, they have relatively shorter jail sentences. In some cases, the offender is not even given a jail sentence. Rather, they just have to pay a fine.
Summary offences have a maximum punishment of six months in jail or a $5000 fine. Both these punishments are not decreed together. In the event that the offence is minor and the crown believes that neither of the aforementioned punishments is a fit, the judge will consider alternative measures.
These might include compensation for loss of damage, an apology, community service work, or some culturally-based practices for Indigenous people.
The trials for a summary offence are held before a judge in Provincial Court. Moreover, the police or other authorities are not supposed to take your fingerprints.
If you have been convicted of a summary offence, you can also apply for a record suspension three years after you complete your sentence. Note that, the three years time will start once you have completed your sentence. To learn more about dealing with record suspension, contact a criminal defence lawyer.
An indictable offence is a relatively serious offence pertaining to crimes such as murder, sexual assault, theft of items above $5000, fraud and more. It also includes breaking and entering and aggravated assault.
However, the type of indictable offence you have been charged with will determine if you have the choice of a preliminary hearing or if you will have to select a trial by a judge and a jury. It also determines the court in which your trial will be held. However, for most indictable offences, you will have a choice (election) to have a trial with a Provincial Court judge, a B.C. Supreme Court judge alone or a B.C. Supreme Court judge with a jury. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that in some cases where murder is involved, the choice is not available to the offender since the trial is held with a B.C. Supreme Court judge and jury.
Depending on the crime and the type of offence, you can receive a penalty as high as spending your entire life in a correctional facility.
As far as hybrid offence is concerned, the crown has to determine whether the case is to be treated as a summary offence or an indictable offence. This is known as a Crown election.
The decision that the crown takes greatly depends on how serious the offence is. If the crown chooses to elect the summary process, the trial is held in a provincial court. However, if the crown decides to treat the case as the indictable process, the offender has the choice to choose to proceed in Provincial Court or a B.C. Supreme Court. Nevertheless, if you have been charged with an indictable offence, consult a lawyer before deciding anything.
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If you are scrambling with charges or are looking for a good criminal defence lawyer to fight your case, our team of trained lawyers can help you build a strong case. We have successfully closed hundreds of cases pertaining to murder, DUI, financial fraud and more.