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Summary Conviction Offences
These types of offences can only be heard in the Court of Criminal Jurisdiction. They are also time bared under the Statute of Limitations – a charge can only be laid prior to 6 months after the commission of the crime – sec. 786(2) of the Criminal Code. A summary conviction charge will begin with a document called an information (which contains alleged facts by the police and prosecution on the case). The maximum sentence for a summary conviction offence is 6 months imprisonment or a $2,000 fine, or both.
Appeals for summary conviction offences are heard in the province’s Superior Court.
An accused can choose the trial either to be heard by a provincial court judge in the Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, a Superior Court Judge in the Superior Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, or by a Superior Court Judge and jury. This choosing process is referred to as an election.
Sec. 469 of the Criminal Code lists a series of offences which MUST be heard by a judge and jury, giving the accused no choice of election – usually more serious indictable offences.
Sec. 553 of the Criminal Code lists a series of offences which MUST be heard by a provincial judge – usually the less serious of the indictable offences - again, leaving the accused with no choice of election.
For trials headed to a Superior Court, they must first pass preliminary inquiry at the provincial court level (evidentiary hearing). Some indictable charges will begin with a document called an information, but once past the preliminary inquiry, the prosecution will re-file a document called an indictment in the Superior Court where the trial is to be heard.
Indictable offences are those usually classified as having a maximum sentence that exceeds 2 years (that’s not to say that that is the sentence that will be imposed).
Appeals for indictable offences are heard by the province’s Court of Appeal – with leave to the Supreme Court in certain matters.