Area of Law: Criminal Law
Answer Number: 738
Categories of criminal offencesRegion: Ontario Answer Number: 738
Being charged with a crime means that you have been charged with a specific offence under federal law such as the Canadian Criminal Code. The three main categories of criminal offences are summary conviction offences, indictable offences, and hybrid offences. Each category has different penalties and different modes or kinds of trials.
Summary conviction offences
Summary conviction offences, such as an indecent act, are the least serious type of offences. If you are charged with a summary conviction offence, you will not have a preliminary hearing, and your trial will be held in the Ontario Court of Justice before a judge only. There will not be a jury.
Indictable offences, such as murder, are the most serious type of offences. The specific indictable offence you have been charged with will determine whether you will have the choice of having a preliminary hearing, whether you will have the right to select a trial by a judge and a jury, and which court your trial will be held in. Because of the serious nature of indictable offences, if you are charged with an indictable offence, you will require a lawyer to represent you.
The third kind of offence is called a hybrid offence. For hybrid offences, such as assault, the Crown prosecutor chooses whether the offence will be treated as a less serious summary conviction offence or a more serious indictable offence. The prosecutor’s decision will affect where the trial takes place and which penalties will apply.
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