Categories Of Criminal Offences In Manitoba

Not all crimes are considered equal. In Canada, there are three main types of criminal offences: summary, indictable, and hybrid offences. Based on how one offence is distinguished from another, courts will follow a different set of rules and issue corresponding punishments.

What is the Difference between a Summary and an Indictable Offence?

Based on the severity of a crime, offences in Manitoba fall within one of these categories. 

Serious crimes are typically classified as indictable offences. As such, indictable offences tend to have more serious consequences than summary offences. These categories are meant to help courts issue appropriate sentences for the type of crime committed. Of course, a crime isn’t harmless just because it’s a summary offence. Here are a few key differences between these categories:

Summary Offences

Trials are held in the Provincial Court with a judge. During a trial for a summary offence, there is usually no preliminary hearing, and a jury is typically not present. 

A few examples of summary offences are:

  • Possession of an illegal substance
  • Soliciting a prostitute
  • Causing a disturbance in a public place 

Those who are charged with a summary offence may face fines or jail time, but to a lesser degree than someone charged with an indictable offence would. They are not required to submit a mugshot or fingerprints, and they must be charged within the six months that follow the crime. 

Indictable Offences

Depending on how the court chooses to proceed, these trials may have a jury present. Additionally, there might or might not be a preliminary hearing. The case may be held in Provincial Court or Federal Court.

Examples of indictable offences include assault, terrorism, murder, breaking and entering a residence, and drug trafficking.

If one is found guilty of an indictable offence, they could face penalties such as:

  • A large fine
  • A criminal record that includes fingerprints and a mugshot
  • Life in prison

Given the severity of these punishments, it’s highly recommended that anyone facing charges like that contact a criminal lawyer asap.

It may not be immediately apparent which category an offence belongs to. Take theft for example: if the theft totals under $5000, it’s a summary offence, but if it’s over $5000, it’s an indictable offence.

When there isn’t an obvious distinction between the two categories, the case may be classified as a hybrid offence.

What is a Hybrid Offence?

In some cases, it isn’t always clear whether an offence falls under the summary or indictable category. Before a decision is made in court, it may be referred to as a hybrid offence or a dual procedure. The Crown prosecutor will determine where a crime is a summary or an indictable offence, along with which level of court the trial will be held in, and which sentences will be issued.

Whether you’ve been charged with a summary, hybrid, or indictable offence, a defence lawyer can help.

Don’t leave legal representation up to chance. If you’re looking for a criminal lawyer in Winnipeg, consider contacting Matthew Gould. You can call or text 24 hours a day to schedule a free consultation. During this meeting, you can discuss the details of your case, go over the available options, and determine how to protect yourself. Call now!