Canadian Criminal Offence: Summary vs. Indictable
People sometimes get confused when they have been to court about what they have been charged with. Court can be a traumatic experience particularly for those people who made a simple mistake and were only arrested once in their life. The first time in court is the worst so it is easy for the mind to block out the memory of it. At best most people remember the experience as a little vague. And as time passes a vague memory rarely becomes more detailed.
One of the things people rarely remember after going to court is if the charge was summary or indictable.
The term “summary offence” corresponds with “misdemeanor” in the American lexicon . On the other hand an “indictable offence” in Canada would correspond with a Felony conviction.
This is just a way for the courts to categorize offences as being less serious (summary) or more serious (indictable) in nature.
For example, a DUI charge which is considered a serious crime in Canada is still rarely categorized as an indictable offence unless someone was hurt in the process. On the other hand something like manslaughter is always indictable.
Some charges can go either way and is left to the discretion of the prosecuting attorney which further complicates the matter. If you are unsure of how your charge was cetegorized there is really no way to be certain unless you have access to your criminal record or court documents.
Once you have completed your sentence the following waiting periods must be met before you are eligible for a pardon:
Summary offence: 3 years
Indictable offence: 5 years
But remember to start the paperwork well in advance as it will save you some time.