3 Types of Criminal Offences

Criminal Lawyers are kept busy dealing with all kinds of crime, but these all fall under one of three categories. This is important because the type of crime committed depends on which sort of court the person will be tried under a magistrate’s court or the Supreme Court.

Based on the legal advice provided by the criminal lawyers at Culshaw Miller, here are 3 types of criminal offences:

Summary or simple offences. These make up the majority of common offences and are defined as

  • They have no term or imprisonment but a fine of less than $120,000.
  • Having a maximum term of 2 years imprisonment
  • Most dishonesty offences of $2500 or less, not including robbery, violence or serial offences, or offences of more than $2500
  • Not including arson or bushfire offences

Examples are disorderly conduct, minor criminal damage to property, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. People charged with a summary offence must be tried in a magistrate’s court. They cannot be tested with the jury.

Minor indictable offences. These are more serious than summary offences but less severe than major indictable offences. They, too, are tried in a magistrate’s court, but the defendant can ask to have them tried in a higher court with a jury. They should only do so after taking counsel from a lawyer, as they could easily be given a harsher sentence. Examples of these offences are: –

  • Theft
  • Deception
  • Serious criminal trespass
  • Aggravated and indecent assault
  • Stalking
  • Gross indecency
  • Property damage less than $30,000

Major indictable offences. These are the worst offences and will be tried in the Supreme Court or a District Court where there is a judge and jury. They have more significant penalties than other crimes. Examples of such offences are –

  • Murder
  • Treason
  • Robbery
  • Rape
  • Unlawful sexual intercourse
  • Property damage worth more than $30,000

Before going to trial, the person must have a committal hearing that ascertains whether there is enough evidence to charge them and get a conviction.

In the case of minor offences, a time limit to laying charges is usually in effect. But there is no time limit for the more severe crimes, so you often see a person charged with crimes committed several decades ago.

While it may seem to be a shame to see a person being charged with a crime committed in their youth when they are old and frail and may have spent many years behaving well and being a valuable member of the community since then, it is still necessary to obtain justice for those people who suffered at their hands and may have had their whole lives changed and ruined due to that person’s criminal action.