What is a Summary Conviction Offence?

When you are charged with a crime under the Criminal Code in Canada, there are three categories of possible offence you can be charged with: summary conviction offences, indictable offences; or hybrid offences, which are a third category of offence where the Crown can choose whether to proceed under either category.

Summary conviction offences are those offences that are considered less serious than indictable offences. They are punishable by lower fines and shorter prison sentences. To be charged with a summary conviction offence in a Calgary, Alberta court, you must be charged within six months of the offence. This is known as a limitation period.

A summary conviction carries a maximum penalty of a six month prison sentence, a $5,000 fine or both. Those who are charged with a strictly summary offence do not have to submit fingerprints when charged. An arrest warrant is not needed. The individual will be tried by the Alberta provincial court instead of being sent to a superior court.

There are only a handful of purely summary offences on the books. The ones that are strictly summary conviction offences include, but are not limited to:

  • solicitation of prostitution.
  • being found in a common bawdy house.
  • possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana.

When charged with a hybrid offences and where the Crown prosecutor’s office has elected to proceed against you by way of an indictable offence it is possible to have the offence reduced to a summary conviction offence with the consent of the Crown.

Where a summary conviction is a possibility, we will work to help you get this consideration under the law. The benefits of being charged with a summary conviction offence as opposed to an indictable offence are not only apparent at the time of sentencing but may have future considerations which would also be beneficial, such as the timing to apply for a pardon or record expungement.

Those who are convicted of a summary offence are eligible for pardon, or record expungement, after five years. This holds true as long as you are not convicted of another offence within that span of time. By getting a pardon, you are able to remove this from your record and make it disappear from background checks, where the charges might otherwise stand between you and opportunities.

We work to ensure that all of our clients get a fair and proportionate interaction with the law. Our criminal lawyers have many years experience dealing with Alberta courts and understand what is needed to get you the results that you want. If a summary conviction offence is a possibility, we will help you get the results that fit your case. Contact us today for a consultation.