Summary Offence or Indictable Offence

Summary Offence or Indictable Offence

Indictment means that the prosecution has the ability to ask the Court for a jail sentence of more than 6 months. This also means that the accused has the option of having a trial. The trial can be:

  1. In the Ontario Court of Justice without a preliminary hearing
  2. In the Superior Court of Justice after having a preliminary hearing, tried by a Jury.
  3. In the Superior Court of Justice with a Judge alone after having a preliminary hearing

A preliminary hearing is a small trial to determine whether the Crown Prosecutor has sufficient evidence to make out a proper case against the accused with a possible chance of finding guilt. The outcome of this is not a judgement of guilt. It only decides if there is sufficient evidence for the Crown Prosecution to make a case against. This threshold to make this out is very low and frequently matters proceed. However, if the Crown cannot make out the case against the accused is discharged from the criminal charges against them.

Summary Offences are considered less serious than Indictable Offences. Summary Offences carry a maximum jail term of up to 6 months less a day. While Indictable Offences can go to trial in Superior Court, Summary Offences are only triable in the Ontario Court of Justice.

Hybrid Offences are more serious than Summary Offences but are not clear cut indictable. This means that Crown Prosecution has the choice to elect to proceed on the charge either summarily or via indictment. This election is made based on the circumstances of the case. Factors influencing the election can include violence, use of firearms, victims injured, the extent of injuries, the extent of damage to property, etc.


    John East


    B.A. (Hons), M.A., J.D.

    John East lives for a fight. He is not afraid to throw a punch and is certainly not afraid to take a punch. He then became a Criminal Defence Lawyer. Having spent many years working on a farm, John East understands that hard work is what wins out at the end of the day. He applies this motto to every case that he defends, no matter what.