Summary conviction or indictable? Basic Information
Summary conviction offences
Summary conviction offences encompass the most minor offences in the Criminal Code. Examples are "communicate for the purpose of obtaining the sexual services of a prostitute," "cause disturbance," and "harassing telephone calls."
Unless a different penalty is specified, summary conviction offences are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or six months' jail or both.
You cannot be fingerprinted for a summary conviction offence. Also if you are convicted of a summary conviction offence as an adult, you are eligible for a pardon three years from the time you complete your sentence (e.g., payment of fine or restitution, completion of probation). Following conviction of an indictable offence, you must wait five years before pardon eligibility.
An indictable offence is more serious than a summary conviction offence. Conviction of an indictable offence exposes you to greater penalties.
If you are prosecuted by indictment, you are entitled to trial by jury for most offences. You do not have the right to trial by jury if you are tried by indictment for offences such as Drive Disqualified (i.e., driving while prohibited as a result of a conviction for impaired driving), Theft Under $5,000, Fraud Under $5,000, or Mischief Under $5,000.
Many offences can be prosecuted either by summary conviction or indictment. The Crown chooses or elects the mode of prosecution. Such offences are referred to as "hybrid" (or "Crown option" or "dual procedure"). Hybrid offences include impaired driving, assault and theft under $5,000. Hybrid offences are considered indictable until the Crown makes its election.