Indictable Offence in Canada [Charges] : The Ultimate Guide

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Indictable Offence in Canada

Indictable offence in Canada is different than in other countries. People always get confused and mix them with other countries’ regulations. So, to make it more understandable, we have come up with the most resourceful explanation. Let’s read the entire article.

Some crimes are more serious than others. Indeed, driving dangerously on the road does not have the same consequences as stealing candy in a store. For this reason, the criminal justice system in Canada provides for several categories of prohibited behaviour. Depending on the level, you can risk big.

Here, we will discuss the indictable offence in Canada, which is a serious criminal act. Also, we will try to depict the difference between this kind of crime with others.

What are The Categories of Crimes and Offenses?

There are several ways of classifying crimes, one of them being their severity. Depending on their severity, In Canada, there are four categories of prohibited behaviour:

  • Summary Offense
  • The Indictable Offense/Criminal Act
  • The Mixed Offense
  • Contravention of a Law or Regulation

What is an Indictable Offence in Canada?

The indictable offence has a different explanation in different countries. In Canada, an indictable offence is an unlawful act that is more gravity full than a regular summary offence.

In other words, an indictable crime is one that an individual commit in breach of the principles set forth by the law. And that it punishes with a severe penalty. The indicator that will be taken as a guide to determine whether a crime is serious is the penalty applied to the offender.

Generally, indictable offences include theft over $5,000.

Apart from that, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, and murder are indictable offences. If the indictable offence proves murder, the offender will be served with the severest punishment. Punishment for indictable offences varies depending on the crime and can include life in prison.

Know More About: Homicide in Canada

An indictable crime is a forceful offence against the rights of others and the legal security of society.

When an indictable crime is committed, the offender has full knowledge that his conduct will cause prejudice to others. However, this does not affect the decision to commit the act against the Law.

Therefore, the offender must be punished with exemplary measures. These measures, at the same time, will help to guarantee respect for individual rights and society.

The indictable offence in Canada is a serious crime. It is prohibited behaviour that carries the harshest penalties in the Criminal Code. Here are a few examples:

  • The Murder.
  • Dangerous Driving Causing Death.
  • The Hostage-taking.

Read More About: Different Types of Murder Cases

In addition, not all criminal acts are treated the same. In the category of criminal acts, some are identified as being even more serious than others.

3 Possible Scenarios: What makes an indictable Offence in Canada?

The procedure for an indictable offence in Canada is more complex than that for summary offences. The procedure varies depending on the seriousness of the criminal act. When you are accused of committing a criminal act, there are three possible scenarios:

  • The criminal act with which you are accused is one of the least serious in the category (e.g., destroying property):

The trial will take place before a judge who hears the evidence and finds you guilty or not guilty.

  • The criminal act with which you are accused is one of the most serious in the category (e.g., murder):

Read More About: Statute of Limitations in Canada

You are automatically entitled to a preliminary investigation. During the preliminary inquiry, the judge decides whether there is sufficient evidence to have a trial. If there is to be a trial after the preliminary hearing, that trial takes place with a judge and jury.

  • Any other criminal act:

As the accused, you can choose how to proceed. The accused has the choice between:

  • Have a trial before a judge.
  • Request a preliminary inquiry, then a trial with a judge.
  • Request a preliminary inquiry, then a trial with a judge and jury.


Suppose you are charged with an indictable offence in Canada. In that case, you must generally be present in court at every stage of the prosecution.

Indictable Offence Canada Criminal Code: The Penalties for a Criminal Act

The penalties may vary; it will depend on the severity of the crime. In general:

  • A specific penalty is provided for each criminal act.
  • When no specific sentence is foreseen, the judge can impose a sentence of up to 5 years in prison (maximum sentence).

According to Criminal Code (R.S.C 1985), penalties for an indictable offence are two kinds.

  • General penalty 787 (1)
  • Imprisonment in default if not otherwise specified (2)

General penalty

According to law, any person convicted and punishable on summary conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding $5000 or to a term of imprisonment of not more than two years less a day or both.

Note: The summary offences only include petty offences.

Imprisonment in default if not otherwise specified

In case of an undefined offence that falls under this category, the imposition of a fine will be changed. But not less than mentioned in subsection 1. However, the term of imprisonment will not be changed.

In that case, the defendant shall be imprisoned for a term of not more than two years less a day. The punishment will be consistent with the previous section’s mentioned punishment.

Further explanation of the indictable offence’s punishment is provided in the following paragraphs. See the following to clarify your ideas about the punishment of an indictable offence.

However, in the long term, imprisonment is extendable to 25 years. Generally, this punishment is imposed on the indictable offence considering the gravity of the offences.

The Maximum Penalty

A judge cannot impose a harsher sentence than the maximum sentence provided for in the Criminal Code.

Please note: the judge will not automatically impose the maximum penalty. It all depends on the circumstances surrounding the criminal act.

There are factors that can make the pain worse. For example, a hateful act is committed against a person because of their skin colour. In such a situation, a judge may decide that the maximum sentence is appropriate.

Some factors can decrease the sentence. For example, the accused regrets his action or has apologized to the victim. A judge may decide that a sentence less severe than the maximum sentence is appropriate in such a situation.

The Minimum Sentence

Certain criminal acts have a minimum sentence. The judge could not give a sentence less severe than the minimum sentence provided for in the Criminal Code. For example, for murder, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment.

List of Indictable Offence in Canada: Examples of Indictable Offences

To understand the term better, you may ask, what is an example of an indictable Offence in Canada. We give you a list to know the indictable crimes:

These are some of the most common indictable crimes, but the range is more wide and varied.

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Indictable vs Summary Offence in Canada

The summary offence (or “summary conviction offence”) is one of the less serious behaviours than the indictable crime. It is prohibited behaviour that carries the least severe penalties in the Criminal Code. Here are a few examples:

  • Steal Merchandise from a Store
  • Being Naked in a Public Place
  • Disturb the Peace
  • Obstruct the Flow of Pedestrians or Vehicles by Offering Sexual Services

On the other hand, an indictable crime is more serious and punishable than a summary offence. You can see that in the before-mentioned paragraphs.

Here are some of the indictable and summary offences in Canada.

Summary Offence

  • Illegal Assembly
  • Being Naked in a Public Place
  • Take Part in an Organized Fight
  • Disturb the Peace
  • Ex: Making Excessive Noise in a Public Place.
  • Vagrancy

Indictable Offence

  • Sexual Assault with a Weapon
  • Dangerous Driving Causing Death
  • Murder
  • Criminal Negligence Causing Death

Read More About: Murder Charges Law in Canada

Ex: An employer did not maintain his machinery, and one of his employees died in an accident caused by a brake problem on his machinery.

  • Participate in a Terrorist Group
  • Torture
  • Using Explosives with the Intent to Destroy
  • Aggravated Assault

Ex: injure or endanger someone’s life.

Is Assault an Indictable Offence in Canada?

Is Assault an indictable Offence in Canada? It is one of the most common questions we get. Not all assaults are present in the Criminal Code of Canada. But certain assaults may be a part of serious crime.

So, let’s focus on Assault. First, you should know that Assault occurs when an individual intentionally, directly, or indirectly applies force against a person without their consent. Or he may attempt or threaten to apply such force.

Types of Assaults

Several types of Assault may apply in Indictable offence cases:

Common Assault

Includes, but is not limited to, violent physical contact, as well as verbal and physical threats.

Assault with a Weapon or Causing Bodily Harm

Includes acts that cause bodily harm or adversely affect the person’s health or well-being. Assault with a weapon occurs when a person carries, uses or threatens to use a weapon. Or he may imitate a weapon while committing an assault.

Aggravated Assault

This occurs when the victim is seriously injured, mutilated, disfigured, or the perpetrator endangers their life.

Threats to Cause Death or Injury.

Words, writings, or gestures that promise to kill or injure a person.

Sexual Assault (simple, armed, or causing grievous bodily harm)

Causing someone, by the use of force or a weapon, to suffer unwanted sexual activity. The victim can suffer physical or psychological consequences.

Read More About: Assault Criminal Code in Canada

Is Conspiracy to Commit an Indictable Offence in Canada Fall Under Criminal Code?

That depends on the severity and type of the conspiracy.

The conspiracy crime will be punishable only when there is a solid agreement to carry out the plan. There need to be agreeable parties (more than one) who have planned to commit a crime.  However, verbal agreements are always difficult to prove in court.

For this reason, some involvement or action must be shown to prove this an indictable crime. Even a confession from one or all parties has a heavy impact on proving an indictable crime in Canada.

What To Do If You Are Charged With Indictable Offence in Canada?

It is important that you seek legal counsel immediately once you have been accused of an indictable offense or believe you could be. You face a very high danger of being found guilty of a serious criminal offense and could perhaps spend the rest of your life in jail if you choose to fight this charge alone.

Our criminal defence lawyers believe that everyone deserves their rights. We provide you with our dedicated legal support since we have successfully fought indictable offence charges for many years.

You can expect complete transparency from us throughout your free consultation, along with 24/7 availability. Tell us what happened by calling or texting us right away.


What is the meaning of indictable? It means serious crimes.

So, finally, we note that several acts can constitute criminal offences. They can harm someone mentally, physically, financially, or even cost a life or more. Strong and exemplary punishments should be given to make other criminals aware of the result.

In that process, no innocent life should be under pressure. And for that reason, understanding indictable offences in Canada is a must. These criminal acts must not be allowed to pass!