A summary offence relates to minor offences under Canada’s laws. Most offences resulting in conviction can either be summary or indictable or hybrid offences. Summary offences do not require a jury trial. The maximum penalty is usually a fine of $5,000 or six months jail time or both.
Summary offence examples
Some examples of summary offences include:
- Possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana
- Solicitation of prostitution
- Cause disturbance
- Indecent or harassing phone calls
Not all offences are strictly summary or indictable. In some cases, the prosecution chooses whether to proceed with a summary or indictable offence conviction. These are called “hybrid offences.”
Examples of hybrid offences that could result in a summary offence conviction
The Crown may choose to proceed with a summary offence conviction for some hybrid offences including:
- Impaired driving
- Fraud and theft under $5,000
- Assault with a weapon
- Simple possession of cocaine
What are the implications?
Other countries also have regulations and procedures for the equivalents of summary offences. In the US, less serious criminal offences are considered “misdemeanors.” However, the implications of having a summary offence or a misdemeanour may vary by jurisdiction.
Even though summary offence convictions are considered less serious than indictable ones, they will still appear on your record. This can make it harder to find employment. Also, it may cause you to be denied entry at the US border. This may be the case even though US citizens with misdemeanors on their record will generally still be admissible in Canada.
What can you do?
If you have a summary offence, you only have to wait five years instead of ten to apply for a Record Suspension. Among other benefits, a Record Suspension make it easier to find work and travel.
If you are travelling, find out about the implication of having a summary offence conviction. Some summary offences may bar you from entry in places, such as the US, while others may not. If you are inadmissible for entry, it will be necessary to apply for a US entry waiver.