Criminal lawyers are kept busy dealing with all different kinds of crime, but in fact these all fall under one of three different categories. This is important because the kind of crime committed has to do with which kind of court the person will be tried under; a magistrate’s court or the Supreme Court.
The 3 type of criminal offences are: –
Summary or simple offences. These make up the majority of common offenses and are defined as
- Having 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 bush fire offences
Examples are disorderly conduct, minor criminal damage to property, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. People who are charged with a summary offence must be tried in a magistrate’s court. They cannot be tried with jury.
Minor indictable offences. These are more serious than summary offences, but less serious 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: –
- Serious criminal trespass
- Aggravated and indecent assault
- Gross indecency
- Property damage less than $30,000