Criminal Summary conviction
Criminal Summary conviction
There are three basic categories of criminal offences in Canada. In Canada, summary conviction offences are considered less serious than indictable offences because they are punishable by shorter prison sentences and smaller fines. These offences appear both in the federal laws of Canada and in the legislation of Canada's provinces and territories. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, there are three types of offences: summary conviction offences, indictable offences, and those offences where the Crown may elect to proceed by summary conviction or by indictment.
Indictable offences are the most serious of criminal offences and would include murder, acts of terrorism, robbery, drug trafficking, treason, certain types of sexual assault, and other very serious criminal acts.
Summary Conviction Offences
Summary conviction offences encompass the most minor offences in the Criminal Code in Canada. Examples are “cause disturbance” and “harassing telephone calls.” A person charged with a summary conviction offence is usually not arrested, unless the accused is found committing the offence. They are often given a notice to appear in court at a certain date and time. A person charged with a summary conviction offence does not have to appear in court. A lawyer or an agent may appear in court on that person's behalf, unless the judge asks the person charged to appear. Summary offences generally involve no jury. The judge usually makes the decision of whether to convict the accused (and of the severity of the associated punishment), based on the evidence presented.
Unless a different penalty is specified, summary conviction offences are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or two years less a day or both. Summary conviction offences generally carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail, although some electable offences have a maximum of eighteen months in jail.
Compared to summary offences in Canada, there are more offences that are classed as indictable. These offences include the most serious crimes including murder, acts of terrorism, and certain types of sexual assault or drug crimes. Some of these offences carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and many carry mandatory minimum jail terms.
Hybrid offences are those offences where the Crown may choose to proceed by either indictment or summary conviction. These types of offences cover the majority of Criminal Code of Canada offences. They include, but are not limited to: assault, sexual assault, fraud under $5000.00, theft under $5000.00, assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, possession of cocaine (simple possession), and many more.
The Crown will weigh up the following factors and then decide to proceed either by summary conviction or indictment:
• The evidence against the defendant
• The seriousness of the alleged crime
• The criminal record of the defendant
• The perception of the particular crime in the community
• The available court resources
• Whether it falls within the limitation period for a summary conviction
If a summary conviction offence is a possibility, we will help you get the results that fit your case. Contact us at Facelaw for a consultation.