If you’re charged with an offence, the Criminal Code will often stipulate what kind of charge it is – an indictable, or a summary offence. There is also a third kind, often referred to as “hybrid offences”, where the Crown gets to decide how they would like to proceed with your charge – summarily or indictably.
These types of offences are used to indicate the “seriousness” of the charges. Summary is considered “less serious” and often carries with it lower penalties for sentencing. Indictable offences are considered “more serious” and carry with it higher penalties.
Whether you are charged with a summary or indictable offence also determines whether you have the right to a trial in the Ontario Court of Justice (the “OCJ”), or a Preliminary Hearing in the OCJ followed by a trial in the Superior Court of Justice (the “SCJ”). Those who are entitled to an SCJ trial also have the right to decide if they want a trial by judge alone, or judge and jury.
Cassandra DeMelo is a criminal defence lawyer who works in London, Ontario. If you have questions about your charges, call her for a free 1-hour consultation.