Most Canadians don’t understand the type of offences people can commit. The Criminal Code of Canada divides offences into three categories: indictable offence, summary conviction and offences that can be dealt with as either indictable or summary. Crown-electable offences are also called hybrid offences.
Simply put, a summary offence is less serious than an indictable offence. Before we dig deep into the differences between summary and indictable offences, it’s important to mention that you must consult a criminal lawyer regardless of the nature of the crime you’re charged with. Seeking proper and timely legal guidance will help you adequately defend your case.
As mentioned earlier, summary offences are the least serious. There are a few summary conviction offences under the Criminal Code. For example, possession of marijuana or prostitution can be treated as summary convictions. Another example is when someone is found being in a common bawdy house.
If the Crown chooses to proceed with summary conviction, a six month limitation period applies. If someone is charged with a summary offence, they’re not required to submit their fingerprints after or upon arrest. These offences are proceeded in the superior courts and not in a court of appeal. The maximum penalty an accused can get in case of a summary offence is 6 months in jail or $5,000 fine. However, some offences such as breach of a probation order have higher sentences.
Indictable offences are far more serious and complicated offences. Murder, an act of terrorism, robbery, treason, drug trafficking, and aggravated sexual assault are some of the examples of indictable offences. If you’re charged with an indictable crime, you need solid grounds on which you can defend your case and improve your situation. These crimes often carry serious sentences such as a potential penalty of life imprisonment.
People charged with an indictable offence can go for a jury trial, judge alone in Superior Court with or without a preliminary hearing, or judge alone in Provincial Court without a preliminary hearing. However, not every crime allows an accused to elect to have a judge without a jury.
Another important aspect of indictable offences is that there is no limitation period involved and that a person can be charged, tried, or convicted at any time. Most indictable crimes are complicated and lead to serious consequences. Therefore, if you’re charged with an indictable offence, it’s important to hire a good lawyer to defend your allegations.
Both an indictable and summary conviction can lead to a criminal record that remains active until the convicted is pardoned. If you’re convicted of a crime, you have to submit an application to the Parole Board of Canada to prove your eligibility criteria in order to get your criminal record sealed. You can be eligible for a pardon in Canada. The waiting period for a summary offence is usually 5 years. For an indictable offence, the waiting period for becoming eligible for a pardon is 10 years.
About Slaferek Callihoo
Slaferek Callihoo helps with defending both summary and indictable offences. As a trusted team of criminal lawyers in Edmonton, we make sure to provide our clients with the best legal guidance and representation. If you want to discuss your case, you can schedule a free consultation right now!