Which court should I choose for my trial?

1. Find out what type of charge it is

All criminal charges are serious, but some are more serious than others. You can usually choose a court for your if you've been charged with:

  • an
  • a that the Crown decides to treat as an indictable offence

Summary offences

Summary offences are the least serious criminal offences. They have a maximum  of 2 years in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both.

Some examples are:

  • causing a disturbance in a public place
  • trespassing at night

Trials are always at the with a judge alone. You don't have a choice.

Hybrid offences

Most Criminal Code offences are hybrid offences. A hybrid is a criminal offence that can be treated as an indictable offence or a .

Some examples are:

  • theft under $5,000
  • fraud under $5,000

The Crown decides how the offence is treated based on the seriousness of the offence and the harm it caused.

If the Crown decides to treat the offence as a summary offence, criminal charges must be laid within 6 months of the offence. And, trials are always at the Ontario Court of Justice with a judge alone. The maximum sentence for some hybrid offences treated as a summary offence is 18 months in jail.

In some cases, the Crown might treat the offence as an indictable offence if 6 months have passed. You might get to choose the court for your trial.

Indictable offences

Indictable offences are the most serious offences. Some examples are:

  • theft over $5,000
  • breaking and entering
  • manslaughter
  • murder

For most indictable offences, you can choose the court for your trial. The maximum sentence for some indictable offences is a life sentence.

Absolute jurisdiction offences

Sometimes you don't get to choose a court even if you've been charged with an indictable offence. Absolute jurisdiction offences are hybrid offences that the law says must be dealt with at the Ontario Court of Justice even if the Crown decides to treat it as an indictable offence.

Some examples are:

  • theft under $5,000
  • fraud under $5,000
  • under $5,000
  • not following a order
  • not following a order

Section 469 offences

Section 469 are offences that the law says must be dealt with at the . Some examples are:

  • murder
  • treason
  • piracy

In most cases, trials are decided by a judge and jury. But if the Attorney General gives you permission, you may be allowed to have the trial with a judge alone.

Hide this website