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What Are The 3 Types Of Criminal Offences?

In Canada, there are over 2 million police-reported criminal offences every year. These include any specific offence under the federal law - the Canadian Criminal Code.


Criminal offences vary from severe life-sentence cases to mere infractions, with everything in between having a set maximum and minimum sentence.


Detailed below are the categories of criminal offences.

The Three Types of Criminal Offences

Criminal offences in Canada can be broken down into three categories: conviction offences, indictable offences, and hybrid offences. When charged with any criminal offence, it is important to know the differences between these three types and which one your crime falls under.

Conviction Offences

Generally known as summary conviction offences, these cases are handled in provincial court and the offender is generally not arrested unless they are found committing the offence.


Unless a judge specifically requests that the convicted party appears in court, they don’t have to attend and can instead, send an agent or a lawyer in their place.


Conviction cases are less serious than indictable offences. These crimes generally include public indecency, creating disturbances and petty theft.


These are civil matters, with the highest end of punishment involving a maximum of 6 months in prison and a $2,000 fine for most crimes, with sexual assault cases carrying a maximum sentence of 18 months.


All summary conviction cases have a limitation period of 6 months, after which a person cannot be charged.

Indictable Offences

Indictable offences are much more serious than conviction offences, with the procedures entirely depending on the severity of the crime. Unlike conviction cases, the offending party can be arrested on the basis of reasonable belief that they are guilty or that they are about to commit the crime.


Anybody charged with an indictable offence is legally required to appear in court and either represent themselves or have a lawyer represent them.


Indictable offences include all degrees of murder, bodily harm, sexual assault, breaking and entering, and any theft over $5,000. The sentencing procedures are different for each case, though life in prison can be included.


Unlike the 6 month limitation period for conviction offences, there’s no limitation period whatsoever regarding indictable offences, meaning that somebody can be charged with an offence years or even decades after the crime was committed or thought to be committed.

Hybrid Offences

When there is a grey area between whether a crime should be classed as a conviction offence or an indictable offence, a prosecutor can choose to proceed with the case either as a conviction or an indictable offence, based on the harm caused or other important factors. These are known as hybrid offences and can include things like more severe sexual assault and less serious breaking and entering.

How A Criminal Lawyer Can Help If You Face Any Of These Offences

If you’ve been charged with either a conviction, indictable, or hybrid offence, you should hire a criminal defence lawyer to represent you.


Legal proceedings can be daunting (especially in criminal cases), but a trained legal representative can help to make the process less stressful and more manageable.


If you’re facing a conviction-offence charge, having a criminal lawyer can exclude you from appearing in court at all, as they can go in your place and represent you to the best of their abilities.


Furthermore, they’re a necessity in indictable offence cases, especially those with higher potential sentences as they can help you to lower your time in prison.

Baker Doodnauth's Experienced Criminal Lawyers

If you need a criminal lawyer in Newmarket or the York Region, then Baker Doodnauth is here for you. We are a law firm prepared to offer comprehensive and effective legal representation through our team of experienced lawyers.


Don’t leave your life up to chance, contact us today and see how we can provide you with the legal representation you deserve.


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