Summary offence
Overview
 
A summary offence is a criminal
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

 act in some common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 jurisdictions that can be proceeded with summarily, without the right to a jury trial
Jury trial
A jury trial is a legal proceeding in which a jury either makes a decision or makes findings of fact which are then applied by a judge...

 and/or indictment
Indictment
An indictment , in the common-law legal system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that maintain the concept of felonies, the serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that lack the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an...

 (required for an indictable offence
Indictable offence
In many common law jurisdictions , an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury...

).
In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, "there are certain minor or petty offenses that may be proceeded against summarily, and without a jury". Any crime punishable by more than six months imprisonment must have some means for a jury trial. Federal law is codified at .
Encyclopedia
A summary offence is a criminal
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

 act in some common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 jurisdictions that can be proceeded with summarily, without the right to a jury trial
Jury trial
A jury trial is a legal proceeding in which a jury either makes a decision or makes findings of fact which are then applied by a judge...

 and/or indictment
Indictment
An indictment , in the common-law legal system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that maintain the concept of felonies, the serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that lack the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an...

 (required for an indictable offence
Indictable offence
In many common law jurisdictions , an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury...

).

United States

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, "there are certain minor or petty offenses that may be proceeded against summarily, and without a jury". Any crime punishable by more than six months imprisonment must have some means for a jury trial. Federal law is codified at . Some states, such as California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, provide that all common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 crimes and misdemeanor
Misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

s require a jury trial. Some states provide that in all offenses the defendant may demand a jury trial.

Contempt of court
Contempt of court
Contempt of court is a court order which, in the context of a court trial or hearing, declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court's authority...

 is considered a prerogative
Prerogative
In law, a prerogative is an exclusive right given from a government or state and invested in an individual or group, the content of which is separate from the body of rights enjoyed under the general law of the normative state...

 of the court, as "the requirement of a jury does not apply to 'contempts committed in disobedience of any lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree, or command entered in any suit or action brought or prosecuted in the name of, or on behalf of, the United States'". There have been criticisms over the practice. In particular, Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 Justice Hugo Black
Hugo Black
Hugo Lafayette Black was an American politician and jurist. A member of the Democratic Party, Black represented Alabama in the United States Senate from 1927 to 1937, and served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1937 to 1971. Black was nominated to the Supreme...

 wrote in a dissent that "[i]t is high time, in my judgment, to wipe out root and branch the judge-invented and judge-maintained notion that judges can try criminal contempt cases without a jury."

Canada

In Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 summary offences are referred to as summary conviction offences. As in other jurisdictions summary conviction offences are considered less serious than indictable offences because they are punishable by shorter prison sentences and smaller fines. These offences appear both in the federal laws of Canada and in the legislation of Canada's provinces and territories. For summary conviction offences that fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government (which includes all criminal law
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

), section 787 of the Criminal Code of Canada
Criminal Code of Canada
The Criminal Code or Code criminel is a law that codifies most criminal offences and procedures in Canada. Its official long title is "An Act respecting the criminal law"...

 specifies that, unless another punishment is provided for by law, the maximum penalty for a summary conviction offence is a sentence of 6 months of imprisonment, a fine of $5,000 or both.

As a matter of practical effect, some common differences between summary conviction and indictable offences are provided below.

Summary conviction offences

  • Accused must be charged with a summary conviction within 6 months after the act happened. Note that the statute of limitations
    Statute of limitations
    A statute of limitations is an enactment in a common law legal system that sets the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings based on that event may be initiated...

     does not apply to the Criminal Code. Limitation periods are set out in the Criminal Code directly.
  • The police can arrest under summary conviction without an arrest warrant notwithstanding s. 495(2)(c) of the Criminal Code.
  • Accused does not have to submit fingerprints when charged under Summary Conviction.
  • Appeals of summary conviction offences go first to the highest trial court within the jurisdiction (e.g. provincial superior court in Alberta is the Court of Queen’s Bench
    Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta
    The Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta is the superior court of the Canadian province of Alberta....

    ).
  • After Provincial Superior Court a further appeal would go to the Provincial Court of Appeal (e.g. the Court of Appeal of Alberta
    Court of Appeal of Alberta
    The Court of Appeal of Alberta is an Canadian appellate court.-Jurisdiction and Hierarchy within Canadian Courts:The Court is the highest court in Alberta, Canada...

    ), and then finally to the Supreme Court of Canada
    Supreme Court of Canada
    The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

    , but as a practical matter very few summary convictions are ever heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • Accused convicted under summary conviction are eligible for an automatic pardon after 5 years provided the accused is not convicted of any further offences during that period.
  • Almost always heard first in a provincial court (although some exceptions apply, such as a summary conviction offence included for trial with an indictable offence).

Indictable offences

  • There is no time limit to when charges can be laid, e.g. an accused can be charged 20 years after an act has occurred. The exception to this point is treason
    Treason
    In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

    , which has a 3-year limitation period.
  • Police do require a warrant to arrest under an indictable offence.
  • Accused has to submit fingerprints when required to appear to answer to an indictable offence.
  • Appeals always go to the Provincial Court of Appeal first, and then on to the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • Accused convicted under an indictable offence can apply for pardon after 5 years.

United Kingdom

In relation to England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

, the expression "summary offence" means an offence which, if committed by an adult, is triable only summarily; and the term "summary", in its application to offences, is to be construed accordingly. In this definition, references to the way in which an offence is triable are to be construed without regard to the effect, if any, of section 22 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980
Magistrates' Courts Act 1980
The Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It codifies the procedures applicable in magistrates' courts in the United Kingdom and largely replaces the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952...

 on the mode of trial in a particular case.

Sir William Blackstone
William Blackstone
Sir William Blackstone KC SL was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England. Born into a middle class family in London, Blackstone was educated at Charterhouse School before matriculating at Pembroke...

, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England
Commentaries on the Laws of England
The Commentaries on the Laws of England are an influential 18th-century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765–1769...

, described summary offences thus:
In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, trials for summary offences are heard in one of a number of types of lower court. For England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

 this is the Magistrates' Court. In Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, it is the Sheriff Court
Sheriff Court
Sheriff courts provide the local court service in Scotland, with each court serving a sheriff court district within a sheriffdom.Sheriff courts deal with a myriad of legal procedures which include:*Solemn and Summary Criminal cases...

 or District Court
District Courts of Scotland
A District Court was the least authoritative type of criminal court in Scotland. The court operated under summary procedure and dealt primarily with minor criminal offences...

, depending on the offence (the latter being primarily for the most minor of offences). Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 has its own Magistrates' Court system
Courts of Northern Ireland
The courts of Northern Ireland are the civil and criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in Northern Ireland: they are constituted and governed by Northern Ireland law....

.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, trials for summary offences are heard in one of the territory's Magistrates' Courts.

See also

  • Indictable offence
    Indictable offence
    In many common law jurisdictions , an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury...

  • Misdemeanor
    Misdemeanor
    A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

  • Summary execution
    Summary execution
    A summary execution is a variety of execution in which a person is killed on the spot without trial or after a show trial. Summary executions have been practiced by the police, military, and paramilitary organizations and are associated with guerrilla warfare, counter-insurgency, terrorism, and...

  • Illegal Immigration
    Illegal immigration
    Illegal immigration is the migration into a nation in violation of the immigration laws of that jurisdiction. Illegal immigration raises many political, economical and social issues and has become a source of major controversy in developed countries and the more successful developing countries.In...

  • Timeline of children's rights in the United Kingdom
    Timeline of children's rights in the United Kingdom
    The timeline of children's rights in the United Kingdom includes a variety of events that are both political and grassroots in nature.The UK government maintains a position that UNCRC is not legally enforceable and is hence 'aspirational' only, although a 2003 ECHR ruling states that, "The human...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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