Legal Dictionary

indictable offence

Legal Definition of indictable offence


  1. An offence which, in Canada, is more serious than those which can proceed by summary conviction. This is the Canadian equivalent to the USA "felony". Murder and treason are examples of crimes committed in Canada which would be indictable offences. These crimes are usually tried by federally-appointed judges and carry heavy sentences.

Definition of indictable offence

Further reading

In many common law jurisdictions (e.g. the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Canada, United States, India, Australia, New Zealand), an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury (in contrast to a summary offence). In trials for indictable offences, the accused normally has the right to a jury trial, unless he or she waives that right. In the United States, a crime of similar severity is a felony, although it too proceeds after an indictment.

In English law the term refers to either way and indictable only offences. An either way or hybrid offence allows the defendant to elect between trial by jury on indictment in the Crown Court and summary trial in the Magistrates' Court. However, the election may be overruled by the court of first instance if the facts suggest that the sentencing powers of a Magistrates' Court would be inadequate to represent the seriousness of the offence. Some offences such as murder and rape are considered so serious that they can only be tried on indictment at the Crown Court where the widest range of sentencing powers is available to the judge. When the accused is charged with an indictable only offence he/she is sent to the Crown Court for trial. [1]

See also


  1. WikiCrimeLine Indictable offence


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


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