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What’s The Difference Between Summary Conviction And Indictable Offence

In Canada, offences are categorized by the Criminal Code of Canada as summary offences (or summary conviction) and indictable offences. You may have heard of both of these terms, but may not fully understand what they mean for you if you are charged with either offence. You should understand as much as you can about the process you may have to go through if charged with summary conviction or indictable offence.

Broadly speaking, the main differences between these two types of offences are the seriousness of the offence, the judicial procedure, and the severity of the punishments and penalties. If charged with either type of offence, you should know what to expect and be prepared.

What is a Summary Conviction in Canada?

A summary conviction in Canada is one that is less serious in nature than an indictable offence. It is also referred to as a summary conviction offence. These offenses are ones that are specifically designated to be dealt with summarily by the statute of Canada. This means you do not have the right to a trial by jury and are tried by provincial court judges.

You are not usually arrested for summary offences, unless you are caught committing the crime. In addition, you cannot be fingerprinted for a summary conviction offence. You are, however, given a notice for a date and time to appear in court, and can have someone attend on your behalf. You must be charged with the offence within six months of when the offence took place or the trial cannot take place.

A list of summary offences include:

Summary offences
  • Assisting a deserter
  • Offences in relation to RCMP members
  • Taking part in an unlawful assembly with the intent of deliberately disturbing the peace.
  • Knowingly engaging in and encouraging prize fights
  • Carrying a weapon while attending a public meeting
  • Making false statements
  • Advertising reward or immunity
  • Nudity
  • Causing a disturbance in or near a public place
  • Disturbing religious worship
  • Trespassing at night on the property of another person
  • Offensive volatile substance
  • Vagrancy
  • Found in in common gaming or betting house
  • Lottery offence involving tickets
  • Offences involving permitted lottery scheme
  • Offences involving permitted lottery scheme on ship
  • Found-in in bawdy-house
  • Transporting person to bawdy-house
  • Stopping or Impeding Traffic by Prostitution
  • Soliciting Near Children
  • Failure to keep watch on person being towed
  • Towing of person by vessel after dark
  • Not safeguarding an opening in ice or an excavation of land
  • Taking an automobile without consent
  • Unlawful timber marks dealings
  • Failure to record the sale of an automobile master key
  • Fraud in obtaining food, beverage or lodging
  • Pretending to practice witchcraft
  • Fraudulently obtaining transportation
  • Falsifying employment record
  • Obtaining carriage by false billing
  • Personation at examination
  • False claim of royal warrant
  • Unlawful use of military uniforms or certificates of the Canadian Forces or any other naval, army or air force
  • Offences by employers regarding union activity
  • Trading stamp offence by non-merchant
  • Trading stamp offence by merchant
  • Wilful interference with attempts to save wreck
  • Interference with marine signal
  • Interference with boundary line
  • Breach of prohibition order repossession of animals
  • Possession of slugs and tokens
  • Defacing current coin
  • Creating likeness of bank-notes
  • Failure to comply with order restricting publication of ID and evidence regarding child sexual violence
  • Failure to comply with the order restricting the publication of evidence regarding justice system participants
  • Use of seized bodily substances for purposes other than DNA analysis
  • Use of DNA analysis for improper purposes
  • Failure to comply with a preservation demand
  • Financial institution that fails to comply with production order
  • Failure to comply with a data preservation demand
  • Breach of restriction on publication of search warrant
  • Breach of SOIRA Order, failing to notify of identity and address
  • Breach of non-publication order from show cause, at preliminary, or in jury trial
  • Disclosure of jury information
  • Order restricting publication regarding sexual offences before Review Board

Maximum penalties for these types of offenses are usually light in comparison to an indictable offence. If there is no specified penalty, the Criminal Code of Canada states that summary conviction offences penalties come with a maximum fine of up to $5,000 or six months’ jail time or both.

While summary conviction is not as serious as indictable one, a summary prosecution can still result in a criminal record, which is still considered very serious. Accused suspects who are convicted under summary convictions are eligible for an automatic pardon (record suspension) after 3 years. However, this is provided that the accused is not convicted of any other offences during that period.

What is an Indictable Offence in Canada?

Indictable offences are the most serious offences under the criminal code in Canada. If you are charged with an indictable offence and plead not guilty, you have the right to a trial by a superior court judge either with or without a jury. If the trial is with a jury, you have the choice to have a trial with or without a preliminary hearing.

Unlike a summary offence, there is no time limit or time frame on when you can be charged for an indictable offence. You can be arrested, charged and tried years after the crime was committed. Because of this, investigating and putting a case together for an indictable offence is both timely and costly.

The punishments for indictable offences in Canada are more harsh than summary conviction punishments. Penalties for indictable offences like the ones listed below are serious and can include sentences that range from 2 years to life in prison.

Minimum Punishment: Life Imprisonment
  • First Degree Murder
  • High treason
  • Second Degree Murder
Maximum Punishment: Prison for life
  • Committing an offence for a terrorist group
  • Knowingly instructing, directly or indirectly, any activity for a terrorist group
  • Knowingly instructing terrorist activity
  • Instructing commission of an offence for criminal organization
  • Attempted murder with a restricted or prohibited firearm
  • Aggravated sexual assault with a restricted firearm or for a criminal organization
  • Kidnapping, trafficking in persons, hostage taking and abduction with a restricted firearm etc. or for a criminal organization
  • Hostage taking with a restricted firearm or for benefit of criminal organization
  • Robbery with a restricted firearm or for benefit of criminal organization
  • Extortion with a restricted firearm or for the benefit of a criminal organization
  • Extortion where a non restricted firearm is used in the commission of the offence
  • Extortion with no firearm or other aggravating facts
  • Causing death by criminal negligence involving the use of a firearm
  • Manslaughter involving the use of a firearm in the commission of the offence
  • Attempting to commit murder with the use of a firearm which is not a restricted or prohibited firearm
  • Aggravated sexual assault with a non restricted firearm
  • Kidnapping, trafficking in persons, hostage taking and abduction with a non-restricted firearm
  • Kidnapping, trafficking in persons, hostage taking and abduction without a firearm
  • Hostage taking with a non-restricted firearm
  • Committing robbery with a non-restricted firearm
  • Treason
  • Interfering with the reading of the riot proclamation or refusing to cease participation in riot
  • Piracy
  • Hijacking of an aircraft by force, threat or by any other form of intimidation
  • Endangering the safety of an aircraft or an airport
  • Seizing control over a ship or fixed platform
  • Committing a violent act on board a ship or fixed platform
  • Knowingly providing false information that endangers the safe navigation of a ship
  • Threats to commit offences on board a ship or fixed platform
  • Breach of duty of care regarding explosives endangering life
  • The use of explosives that are likely to cause death or serious harm
  • Hoax regarding terrorist activity that results in causing death
  • Breaking and entering to steal firearms
  • Committing robbery to steal firearms
  • Prison Breach
  • Negligence causing death without a firearm
  • Manslaughter that does not involve the use of a firearm
  • Killing an unborn child in the act of birth
  • Attempt to commit murder without the use of a firearm
  • Accessory after the fact to murder
  • Overcoming resistance to the commission of an offence
  • Keep trap and cause death in place to commit offence
  • Interfering with transportation that is likely to cause death
  • Flight from police that causes death
  • Causing death by criminal negligence (street racing)
  • Causing death by dangerous driving (street racing)
  • Failure to stop at the scene of an accident knowing death was caused
  • Impaired driving causing death
  • Impaired driving with a blood alcohol level over .08 which results in causing death
  • Fail to provide breath sample where death occurred
  • Aggravated sexual assault without a firearm
  • Trafficking in persons involving aggravated assault or causing death
  • Hostage taking without aggravating elements
  • Abortion
  • Robbery
  • Stopping mail with intent to obtain
  • Breaking and Entering into dwelling house
  • Mischief causing actual danger to life
  • Explosives offence in relation to a public or government facility
  • Arson (with a disregard for human life)
  • Conspiracy to commit murder
  • Drug trafficking in Schedule I substances
  • Drug trafficking in Schedule II substances
Maximum Punishment: 14 years in prison
  • Administering noxious thing with intent to endanger life
  • Administering noxious thing
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Alarming Her Majesty
  • Arson causing damage to own property with disregard for life
  • Arson causing damage to property with disregard for life
  • Assisting an alien enemy
  • Attack on premises, residence or transport of internationally protected person
  • Attack on premises, residence or transport of U.N. or associated personnel
  • Attempt or accessory to indictable offence punishable by life imprisonment
  • Breach of duty of care in relations to explosives risking bodily harm
  • Bribery of judicial officers
  • Bribery of officers
  • Causing bodily harm by criminal negligence (street racing)
  • Causing bodily harm by dangerous driving (street racing)
  • Causing bodily harm with air gun with intent
  • Clip or utter coin (put in circulation)
  • Commission of offence for criminal organization
  • Conveying instruments for counterfeiting from mint
  • Counselling suicide
  • Counterfeiting
  • Counterfeiting mark or stamp
  • Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death
  • Discharging firearms with the intent to wound with aggravated factors
  • Discharging firearms with the intent to wound, maim, etc.
  • Distribution of child pornography
  • Drawing document without authority
  • Fabricating evidence
  • Facilitating terrorist activity
  • Flight from police that causes bodily harm
  • Forgery of or putting into circulation a forged passport
  • Fraud affecting public markets of stocks, etc.
  • Fraud Over $5,000
  • Fraud over $5,000 or involving a testamentary instrument
  • Householder permitting sexual activity under 16
  • Incest
  • Inciting to mutiny
  • Intimidating Parliament
  • Intimidation of a justice system participant
  • Invitation to sexual touching
  • Keep trap and cause bodily harm in place to commit offence
  • Living on the avails of prostitution of person under eighteen (no parasitic involvement)
  • Making of child pornography
  • Obtaining instrument based on forged document
  • Offence involving exchequer bill paper, public seal
  • Offensive weapons and explosives on aircraft
  • Omission to prevent treason
  • Parent or guardian procuring sexual activity under 16
  • Participation in fraud regarding the sale of defective stores
  • Perjury
  • Piratical acts
  • Possession of counterfeit money
  • Possession of explosive for criminal organization
  • Possession of explosive likely to cause death or serious harm
  • Being in possession of materials for counterfeiting
  • Procuring involving person under 18 (with parasitic involvement)
  • Public servant refusing to deliver property
  • Sale of defective stores to Her Majesty
  • Sedition
  • Sexual assault causing bodily harm (no aggravating elements)
  • Sexual assault with restricted firearm etc weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm
  • Sexual assault with a firearm that is not restricted, etc, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm
  • Sexual assault with a weapon (no aggravating elements)
  • Sexual assault with weapon that is not a firearm, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm
  • Sexual interference
  • Torture
  • Trafficking in persons without aggravated facts
  • Treason
  • Using a firearm in the commission of an Offence
  • Utter counterfeit money
  • Giving contradictory evidence while acting as witness
Maximum Punishment: 10 years in prison
  • Providing or collecting property to further terrorism
  • Providing property or services to further terrorism
  • Use or possession of property to further terrorism
  • Participating in terrorist activities
  • Harbouring or concealing terrorist
  • Being in possession of an unauthorized firearm
  • Weapons Trafficking (every aggravating element made out)
  • Possession for purpose of weapons trafficking (every aggravating element made out)
  • Importing or exporting unauthorized firearm without aggravating factors
  • Export or import of unauthorized firearms (every aggravating element made out)
  • Impaired Driving and Over 80 that causes bodily harm
  • Parent or guardian procuring sexual activity under 16
  • Weapons trafficking without aggravating factors
  • Sabotage
  • Possession of Unauthorized Firearm – on first conviction
  • Obstructing justice with elements of aggravation
  • Procuring
  • Criminal negligence that causes bodily harm
  • Set trap and actually cause bodily harm
  • Keep trap to cause bodily harm to commit offence
  • Dangerous operation of motor vehicle cause bodily harm
  • Failure to stop at the scene of accident that causes bodily harm
  • Impaired driving causing bodily harm
  • Blood alcohol over legal limit that causes an accident leading to bodily harm
  • Failure to provide sample and bodily harm
  • Impeding an attempt to save a life
  • Aggravated assault
  • Profiting from trafficking in persons
  • Theft over $5,000 or testamentary instrument
  • Theft of cattle
  • Destroying documents of title
  • Possession of break-in instruments
  • Disguise with intent
  • Possession of stolen goods over $5,000 or testamentary instrument
  • Theft from mail
  • Bringing property obtained by crime into Canada
  • False pretence over $5,000 or involving a testamentary instrument
  • Fraudulent manipulation of stock exchange deals
  • Prohibited insider trading
  • Offences in relation to mines
  • Knowingly creating, circulating or publishing a false prospectus
  • Threat against U.N. or associated personnel
  • Arson for fraudulent purpose
  • Interference with signal, buoy or sea-mark used for the purpose of navigation
  • Conspiracy to prosecute an innocent person for an offence punishable by life or 14 years
  • Drug trafficking in Schedule III substances
Maximum Punishment: 7 years in prison
  • Attempt or accessory to indictable offence punishable by 14 years
  • Fraudulent use of citizenship certificate
  • Riot
  • Peace officer’s neglect in riot situation
  • Duelling
  • Disobeying a statute where no other set sentence
  • Misconduct by officers executing process
  • False affidavits
  • Compounding indictable offence
  • Permitting or assisting escape
  • Corrupting children
  • Obstructing or violence to or arrest of officiating clergyman
  • Common nuisance
  • Wilfully and knowingly publishing a statement, tale or news that is false and that causes or is likely to cause injury or mischief to a public interest
  • Possession of equipment for wiretapping illegally
  • Administering a Noxious Substance (with intent to aggrieve or annoy that person)
  • Book-making
  • Placing bets on behalf of others
  • Householder permitting sexual activity under 18 but at least 16
Maximum Punishment: 5 years in prison
  • Intercept of Private Communications
  • Participating in activities of criminal organization
  • Parent or guardian procuring sexual activity under 18 but at least 16
  • Householder permitting sexual activity under 16
  • Communicating with youth under 18 for prostitution
  • Offences respecting military stores
  • Unlawful drilling
  • Possession of explosive without lawful excuse
  • Fraud on government
  • Breach of trust by public officer
  • Influencing municipal official
  • Selling or purchasing office
  • Influencing appointment in office
  • Corruptly taking reward
  • Rescue or permitting escape
  • Aiding a prisoner of war to escape
  • Indignity or neglect of a dead body
  • Interception of communication
  • Interception of radio-based telephone communications
  • Infanticide
  • Neglect to obtain assistance and concealing birth
  • Set trap likely to cause bodily harm
  • Unworthy vessel or aircraft
  • Withholding or destroying documents in respect of human trafficking victims that are 18 years and above
  • Abducting a person under 16 years of age
  • Bigamy
  • Procuring a feigned marriage
  • Polygamy
  • Publishing defamatory libel knowing it to be false
  • Extortion by libel
  • Hate propaganda
  • Fraud respecting cattle
  • Drift timber fraud
  • Obtaining execution of valuable security by fraud
  • Offence involving counterfeit proclamation by Government
  • Telegram in false name
  • Damaging documents
  • Offences in relation to registers
  • Gaming in stock or merchandise
  • Reducing stock by selling for own account
  • Fraudulent registration of title
  • Fraud in relation to valuable minerals by holder of lease or licence
  • Sale of valuable mineral save by lawful authority
  • Purchase of valuable mineral save from owner
  • Possession of stolen or fraudulently obtained valuable minerals
  • Falsification of books and documents
  • Participation in the falsification of books and documents
  • False return by public officer
  • Acknowledging instrument in false name
  • Threat against an internationally protected person
  • Secret commission
  • Arson caused by negligence
  • Possession of incendiary materials
  • Interference with saving of wrecked vessel
  • Occupants injuring a building
  • Interfering with international boundary lines
  • Having clippings for gold without justification
  • Advertising and dealing in counterfeit money
  • Participating in a conspiracy to prosecute an innocent person for an offence punishable by less than 14 years
Maximum Punishment: 2 years in prison
  • Being in possession of a forged passport
  • Disclosing information from a wiretap
  • Keeping a gaming or betting house
  • Book-making (2 years jail time if no prior offences)
  • Placing bets for others (2 years jail time if no prior offences)
  • Lotteries Offences respecting lotteries
  • Cheating at play
  • Keeping common bawdy-house
  • Concealing the body of child
  • Administer noxious thing (no intent to endanger life)
  • Female person aborting pregnancy
  • Supplying noxious thing to produce miscarriage
  • Unlawful solemnization of marriage
  • Celebrating marriage contrary to law
  • Blasphemous libel
  • Publishing defamatory libel (not aggravating)
  • Possessing a device to obtain telecommunication service
  • Fraudulent concealment
  • Possession of instruments to break into coin machines
  • Sale of automobile master key
  • False message
  • Using mails to defraud
  • Fraudulent concealment of title documents
  • Fraudulent sale of real property
  • Misleading receipt
  • Fraudulent disposal of goods on which $ advanced
  • Fraudulent receipts under Bank Act
  • Disposal of property to defraud creditors
  • Fraud in relation to fares
  • Offering advantage to avoid paying fare
  • Trader failing to keep accounts
  • Applying or removing marks without authority
  • Remove natural bar without permission
  • Putting counterfeit coin into circulation

When accused with an indictable offence, like the ones listed above, if there is enough evidence for a case, the Crown counsel may charge you. If charged with an indictable crime, court proceedings will begin and you will begin to make pre-trial court appearances, going through an arraignment in the process.

By pleading “not guilty,” you will then have a choice to have a trial with a Supreme Court judge alone or a Supreme Court judge with a jury. The trial will then proceed during which you may be found guilty or not.

What is a Conviction on Indictment?

A conviction on indictment refers to when you are found guilty after being formally charged and tried for an indictable crime. When convicted, the judge can use statute laws as well as other cases as reference to determine an appropriate sentence for your crime. A sentence can include fines, jail time, community supervision and spending time in custody.

Is DUI a summary conviction in Canada?

Officially, DUIs in Canada are considered to be hybrid offences. This means that it can be prosecuted as either a summary conviction or indictable offence. Yet most Canadian DUI offences are treated and prosecuted as a summary conviction. However, if the DUI is considered serious, for instance, if your impaired driving causes bodily harm or even death, it can be prosecuted as an indictable offence.

For a first time offence, if convicted, you can expect a minimum $1,000 fine. For a second time offence within a ten year period, you can get a minimum of 30 days in prison. Afterwards, each subsequent conviction results in 120 days in jail.

Conclusion

To successfully defend yourself against any charges or allegations, whether summary conviction or indictable offence, it is important to consult a criminal lawyer immediately.