Summary offences are generally considered to be less serious. Examples include:
- road traffic offences (e.g. careless driving, drink driving and unlicensed driving)
- minor assaults
- property damage
- offensive behaviour.
When a person is charged with a summary offence, the case is heard in the Magistrates’ Court by a magistrate, rather than with a judge and jury. The case can go to court without the person accused of the offence being present.
Indictable offences are more serious offences.
- aggravated burglary
- indecent assault
- drug trafficking offences
When a person is charged with an indictable offence:
- they must be present at hearings in the court
- the first hearing (called a committal hearing) is usually heard in the Magistrates’ Court.
During the committal hearing it will be decided whether the case will be heard in the Magistrates’ Court or be sent to the County or Supreme Court. You can find out more about the different courts in Victoria.