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Types of Charges

There are three types of criminal charges. These are:

  • Summary offences – these are less serious offences (often referred to as street offences), such as traffic offences, minor assaults, property damage and offensive behaviour. Summary matters can be dealt with in the absence of the defendant if the Magistrate deems it appropriate; these are called ‘ex parte’ hearings.
  • Indictable offences triable summarily – these are often more serious offences, such as drug offences, serious assaults, theft, sex offences and fraud. The defendant has a choice whether to have the matter heard in the Magistrates’ Court or the County Court.
  • Indictable offences – these are the most serious charges, such as murder, serious theft and fraud, serious drug trafficking and serious sex offences. . They must be heard before a jury in either the County Court or the Supreme Court.