Types of Offences

From Criminal Law Notebook


Procedurally, there are three classes of offence:

There is a further division between offences that are divided between full criminal offences and those that are "quasi-criminal" or regulatory. Those that are in the latter category are often provincially legislated offences, such as provincial Occupational Health and Safety legislation. They will always be classified as a form of summary offence.

Summary Offences

Any offence which is not explicitly described as an indictment or indictable offence is a summary offence.[1]

Penalties associated with provincial offences have a maximum penalty range from 6 months to 2 years less a day.[2]

Procedure for Summary Offences is governed by Part XXVII of the Code entitled "Summary Convictions".[3]

  1. see s. 34(1)(b) of the Interpretation Act, RSC 1985, c I-21 which reads "Where an enactment creates an offence,...the offence is deemed to be one for which the offender is punishable on summary conviction if there is nothing in the context to indicate that the offence is an indictable offence;"
  2. s. 787 of the Code designates "summary conviction" offences as having maximum penalty of a fine and/or 6 months imprisonment
    see also Maximum and Minimum Sentences
  3. see s. 785 to 840

Indictable Offences

According to s. 34(2) of the Interpretation Act, all indictable offences found in federal legislation are subject to the Criminal Code:

[omitted (1)]

Criminal Code to apply

(2) All the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to indictable offences apply to indictable offences created by an enactment, and all the provisions of that Code relating to summary conviction offences apply to all other offences created by an enactment, except to the extent that the enactment otherwise provides.

Documents similarly construed

(3) In a commission, proclamation, warrant or other document relating to criminal law or procedure in criminal matters,

(a) a reference to an offence for which the offender may be prosecuted by indictment shall be construed as a reference to an indictable offence; and
(b) a reference to any other offence shall be construed as a reference to an offence for which the offender is punishable on summary conviction.

R.S., c. I-23, s. 27

Section 469 states that "[e]very court of criminal jurisdiction has jurisdiction to try an indictable offence" to the exception of s. 469 offences.

The necessary procedure for any indictable offences to be tried by a judge without a jury is governed by Part XIX of the Criminal Code: "Indictable Offences — Trial Without Jury".[1] Procedure for indictable offences with a jury are governed by Part XX of the Code entitled "Procedure in Jury Trials and General Provisions".[2]

The maximum penalties for indictable offences will vary by increments of 2 or more years. The maximum sentences include 2, 5, 7, 10, or 14 years or life.

  1. see s. 552 to 573.2
  2. see s. 574 to 672.95

Section 469 Offences

Hybrid or Electable Offences

See also: Crown Election

Under s. 34(1)(a) of the Interpretation Act, a hybrid offence is deemed to be treated as indictable until such time as a summary election is made.[1] This principle has a number of effects. It means that the many powers of police in relation to indictable offences will include hybrid offences for the purpose of their investigation. It also means that the requirements of personal attendance at court for indictable offences applies well. Anywhere in the Code that refers to "indictable offences" will include hybrid offences.

A conviction for a hybrid offence elected as a summary conviction cannot be treated as an indictable offence.[2]

  1. s. 34(1)(a) reads "Where an enactment creates an offence,...the offence is deemed to be an indictable offence if the enactment provides that the offender may be prosecuted of the offence by indictment."
  2. section 34(1)(c) of the Interpretation Act

Quasi-Criminal and Regulatory Offences

See also: Regulatory and Provincial Offences

See Also