A summary offence is an offence that can be heard by a magistrate sitting alone, rather than a judge and jury. A summary offence can also be heard without the accused person being present at court. Summary offences are usually considered to be less serious offences. Examples include:
- road traffic offences - for example, careless driving, drink driving and unlicensed driving
- minor assaults
- property damage
- offensive behaviour.
Indictable offences are more serious offences that can't be heard without the person accused of the crime being present at court. These offences are usually heard in the Magistrates' Court for a committal hearing, then may be committed for trial before a judge in the County Court or Supreme Court.
Types of indictable offences include:
- aggravated burglary
- indecent assault
- drug trafficking offences
Some indictable offences may be heard in the Magistrates' Court where the court believes it is appropriate for the offence to be dealt with by a magistrate.
Types of court hearings
Court hearings are different depending on the type of offence. See Types of courts for more information or ask the police investigator for the case.