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Types of Offences

The nature of the offence determines which

court has jurisdiction to hear the case,
the powers of police to arrest,
the accuseds right to be released before trial,
the kind of trial the accused receives.
Three Types of Offences
Summary Conviction Offences
Indictable Offences
Hybrid Offences

Summary Conviction
These offences are the least serious and trials for
these convictions are held at the lower courts of
the Ontario Court of Justice.
The accused does not have a right to a jury trial.
Trials in these cases are held in front of a judge
alone, and sentencing for this type of offence
ranges, with the maximum penalty being a fine of
up to $2000 and/or six months in jail, unless
otherwise specified by law.

Summary Conviction Cont
Usually a person is not arrested for a summary offence,
but will receive a notice to appear in court.
The accused does not have to appear in court personally.
A lawyer may represent the person in the court
A person cannot be fingerprinted for a summary
conviction offence and is eligible for a pardon three years
after the sentence is completed.
Examples of summary offences include: causing a
public disturbance, loitering, and having open alcohol in

Indictable Offences
Indictable offences are more serious than summary
The procedure followed depends on the seriousness of
the offence.
For less serious indictable offences, trials are done before
a provincial court judge, while the most serious indictable
offences, such as murder, must be tried by a judge and
For some indictable offences, the accused is put to an
election between being tried by a provincial court judge, a
superior court judge alone, or a superior court judge with
a jury.
Indictable Offence Cont
A person charged with an indictable offence must show
up personally in court.
There is no limit on how much time can elapse between
the alleged act and the arrest, which means that police
can charge the person years after the offence occurred.
The maximum penalty for indictable offences is life
Examples of indictable offences include: murder,
robbery, and kidnapping.
Hybrid Offence
Hybrid offences are also known as dual procedure offences and can be
tried as either summary conviction or indictable offences.
The Crown chooses whether it wants to prosecute as a summary or an
indictable offence, usually depending upon the circumstances of the
incident, and factors about the offender.
Examples of hybrid offences include: impaired driving, assault,
theft under $5000, and failing to provide the necessaries of life.
Most offences in the Criminal Code are hybrid offences. Hybrid offences
are treated as indictable offences until the Crown chooses which way it
wants to proceed. This means that an accused will be fingerprinted on
arrest, even though it is possible that he will be tried for a summary
conviction offence.
The Courts
Outside of civil law, there are mainly five types of
courts in Canada:

1. Provincial Court Criminal Division
2. Provincial Superior Court Appeals & Trials
3. Provincial Court of Appeal
4. Federal Court
5. Supreme Court of Canada
Provincial Court - Criminal
This court

Arraigns the accused (reads charge; enters plea)
Holds preliminary hearings for very serious indictable
Hears and tries summary conviction offences and less
serious indictable offences (e.g. theft under $5000)
Judges are appointed by provincial governments.

Provincial Superior Court
This court

Tries the most serious crimes (murder, robbery)
Hears criminal appeals in summary offences
Sets provincial precedent; new decisions must be
followed by other judges in that province
Can be a judge alone or judge and jury
Judges are appointed by the federal government.

Provincial Court of Appeal
This court

Is the final court of appeal in the province
Sets provincial precedent for other judges to follow
Has three to five judges to hear appeals
Judges are appointed by the federal government.

Federal Court
This court

Is divided into two parts: Federal Court and Federal
Court of Appeal
Hears legal disputes that involve the federal government
(e.g. jurisdiction, immigration, copyright issues)
Decisions of this court may be appealed to the Supreme
Supreme Court of Canada
This court

Is the highest court of appeal in the country
Hears appeals but only under certain conditions:
issue must be of national importance
a law must be interpreted
Has unlimited jurisdiction and usually sets national
precedents when issuing a decision
There are nine judges on the Supreme Court; they are
appointed by the federal government and can serve until
they reach the age of 75.
First Court Appearance
Accused enters a plea to the charge.

About 90% of accused plead guilty!

For a summary conviction (a fairly minor criminal
action) the judge will sentence immediately.

For an indictable conviction (a more serious criminal
action) the judge will remand the case for up to 8
days before sentencing.
Preliminary Hearing Not Guilty Plea
Allows a Provincial Court Judge to decide
if there is sufficient evidence to proceed
with a trial in higher court.

The Crown has to make a prima facie; it
must present enough evidence to
convince a judge that a reasonable jury
could find the accused guilty.
On the other hand, the Defence will put
forward its evidence and/or arguments to
prove that the Crown does not have a

If the Defences evidence/arguments are
strong enough, charges will be dropped
and no trial will take place.
Preliminary Hearing Not Guilty Plea
Here, the Defence obtains more evidence against
the accused.

The Defence can cross-examine.

The accused can waive the right to a preliminary
hearing and go right to trial.

This usually happens when the Crown discloses its
evidence at the first court appearance.
Read pages 202-209 in All About Law.
Answer questions 1-10