Summary and minor offences

Summary (or minor) offences are matters that are usually heard by a Magistrate in the Local Court. Matters dealt with in this way usually proceed through the Court system much faster than the more serious indictable offences.

Summary offences are less serious offences such as traffic offences and petty crime. In New South Wales, summary offences have a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment. Some examples of summary offences are drink driving offences (unless someone is killed or seriously injured) and trespassing on another person’s property.

Indictable offences

Indictable offences are generally the more serious crimes. If the case involves an indictable offence, it may be dealt with before a judge and/or jury in the District Court or Supreme Court of New South Wales. If you are charged with an indictable offence and choose to plead ‘not guilty’, you have the right to a trial by jury.

The major difference between summary offences and indictable offences are the maximum penalties that can be imposed. Examples of indictable offences include murder, robbery, malicious wounding and dangerous driving.