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Criminal Charges. Indictable, Summary & Hybrid Explained

Types of Criminal Charges

When an individual is arrested, they receive a set of criminal charges. Charges mean that the individual has been accused of committing an offence contrary to the Criminal Code, and that they could be facing sanctions such as probation, a fine, or jail time. There are three main types of criminal charges (offences): summary, indictable, and hybrid.

What do Summary, Indictable and Hybrid mean?

Summary offences are offences that carry a maximum of 6 months in prison, or a fine of up to $5000, or both. Generally these offences are less serious than indictable offences. The charging document for summary offences is called an information. Indictable offences can carry punishments that include fines over $5000 or more than 6 months in prison, or both. The charging document for an indictable offence is called an indictment, and when an individual is facing charges related to an indictable offence, they can elect whether to have a trial with or without a jury. Hybrid offences are offences that can either be summary or indictable, depending on what the Crown elects. Most offences in the Criminal Code are hybrid offences, and the offence will be deemed indictable until the Crown makes the election.

The Smordin Law Approach

In Ontario there are two courts that hear criminal matters: the Ontario Provincial Offencese, and the Superior Court of Justice. The Ontario Provincial Offences hears both summary and indictable offences, but the Superior Court of Justice only hears indictable offences.

The lawyers at Smordin Law have years of experience dealing with all types of criminal offences. If you or someone you know are facing criminal charges for any type of offence, contact Smordin Law to discuss your options.

Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46, ss. 469, 787.

Interpretation Act, RCS 1985 c I-21, s. 34(1)(a).

Smordin Law Criminal Lawyers
41 King William St. #200
Hamilton, ON
L8R 1A2
Tel: 1 (905) 525-0005
Toll Free: 1 (844) 525-0005
Fax: 1 (905) 525-5716

Aboriginal Criminal Law | Gladue

Canada’s Aboriginal people make up about 3.8% of the Canadian population but account for almost 24% of the total inmate population. Recently, Howard Sapers, the Correctional Investigator of Canada, called for more oversight for Aboriginal inmates. Sapers has made several recommendations, including: appointing a deputy commissioner for Aboriginal corrections, and addressing Aboriginal-specific provisions in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. These recommendations were made in 2013 but Sapers is hopeful that the new federal government will be quick to enact changes in order to address the growing number of Aboriginal inmates. Sapers notes that Aboriginal inmates are more likely to spend time in custody and in segregation cells. Aboriginal Criminal Law is constant evolving before the courts.  The aboriginal criminal law team at Smordin Law is constantly updating their knowledge of the law that affects aboriginal criminal issues.

Longer time in jail for Aboriginal inmates

Sapers concerns are obviously well founded. For example, according to a 2014 Corrections and Conditional Release Statistical Overview, Aboriginal inmates are less likely to get early release. Nearly 85% of Aboriginal inmates remain until they have served two-thirds of their sentences – compared to 69% of non-Aboriginal inmates. Sapers also refers to the lack of healing lodge spaces in prisons across the country. He is hopeful that the new government will be able to address the issue of over representation of aboriginal people and the criminal justice system.

While Canada’s prison watchdog fights for Aboriginal inmates, efforts are being made to help Aboriginal accused through restorative justice programs. For example, in 2014, an Aboriginal Persons was created in Brantford, Ontario. The Aboriginal Persons’ court is designed to handle the cases of Aboriginal people who have been charged with a criminal offence and propose sentences using a restorative justice approach aligned with Aboriginal culture and traditions. It runs two days per week and deals with guilty pleas and sentencing. Even if you’re charged outside of Brantford, you can request that your matter be transferred to this special court.

Smordin Law Experienced Advocates in Aboriginal Criminal Law

If you identify as Aboriginal and have been charged with a crime, it’s important to know the options available to you during your trial or plea, sentencing, and incarceration. The lawyers at Smordin Law have worked extensively with Aboriginal clients and understand how to incorporate Aboriginal culture and traditions into your case.

aboriginal criminal law
Smordin Law Criminal Lawyers
41 King William St. #200
Hamilton, ON
L8R 1A2
Tel: 1 (905) 525-0005
Toll Free: 1 (844) 525-0005
Fax: 1 (905) 525-5716


Police Vehicle Stop. What you need to know.

police vehicle stop

What to do/what not during a police vehicle stop.

  • police vehicle stop occur thousands of times daily.
  • first things first, the law in Ontario sees driving as a privilege, not a right. So while you are protected by the charter, there are certain obligations that you have during a police vehicle stop.
  • if a police officer has signalled for you to stop, you must immediately come to a safe stop
  • you could face fines or jail time for failing to stop when requested
  • The Highway Traffic Act requires you to provide the officer with three items during a police vehicle stop:
    • your driver’s license
    • proof of insurance
    • vehicle registration
  • Failure to provide these items can result in a fine
  • when you are pulled over, you should stay in the car, turn on the interior lights, roll down the window and place your hands on the steering wheel
  • when the officer comes to the window, provide them with your documents when they request them
  • In Ontario, your passengers are under no obligation to provide identification or to answer questions during a police vehicle stop.
  • The police can order to step out of your car if:
    • they suspect you are impaired and they are administering a roadside breath or sobriety test
    • they’re concerned for their safety (must be reasonable belief)
  • The police may ask to search your car
  • You do not have to give them consent – even if it sounds like an order
  • If you have been pulled over and they want to search your car, you have the right to call a lawyer
  • note that section 8 of the charter applies to the search of the vehicle so the police must have reasonable grounds for the search
  • act respectfully and provide the necessary documentation
  • sometimes, given the context, it’s better to comply with the officer’s requests than to argue with them

– it’s always your right to ask why you have been stopped and to contact a lawyer before answering any questions or consenting to a search

Criminal Legal Aid Certificate. What you need to know.

What is a Criminal Legal Aid Certificate?

Legal Aid Ontario provides criminal legal aid assistance for low-income people. Legal Aid Ontario provides many service, including a certificate program. A criminal legal aid certificate guarantees that the private practice lawyer you choose gets paid for representing you

How can I get a Criminal Legal Aid Certificate?

  • If you have been charged with a crime in Ontario you can call LAO’s toll free number 1-800-668-8258 or you can call a lawyer who accepts criminal legal aid and they can help you through the process
  • you will need to apply for criminal legal aid through the certificate program

Will I be eligible for a Criminal Legal Aid Certificate?

  • when it comes to criminal matters and legal aid, LAO considers two things: financial eligibility and whether the legal matter qualifies.

Financial eligibility:

  • legal aid assesses your eligibility based on your income. For example, if you are a single person living alone your income must be lower than $12,135. If you are in a family of five it must be less than $30,016. You can see a full chart at
  • There is also an option to enter into a contribution agreement. This requires you to sign an agreement to repay LAO for some or all of your legal fees.
  • There are still financial cut offs to be eligible for a contribution agreement. For example, for a single person living alone, the cut off is $14,045. So, if you make more than $12,135 but less than $14,045 you could be eligible for legal aid by signing a contribution agreement.

Legal matter must qualify:

  • To be eligible for legal aid, your legal matter must also qualify.
  • Typically, this means that you are facing jail time if convicted but LAO has also recently expanded their eligibility to those who face significant secondary consequences.

Jail time:

  • To help them figure out whether you may be facing jail time, LAO consults its list of criminal code charges. You can search for your charge at but keep in mind that this is a guideline only.
  • LAO also considers a number of aggravating and mitigating circumstances. These circumstances affect the likelihood of jail upon conviction.
  • Some mitigating factors include: first offender, remorse, likely entering a guilty plea, etc.
  • Some aggravating factors (i.e. that will make it more likely that you’re facing jail time): prior jail time for a related offence, on bail or probation, history of breeching orders, etc.
  • To give an example: you are charged with assault. If this is your first offence, you are a youth, the complainant was not seriously injured, you’re remorseful, etc. you are less likely to face jail time if convicted and therefore you may not be eligible for legal aid. If you are charged with assault and your co-accused are youth but you are an adult you are more likely to face jail time. If you have previously served jail time for an assault in the last five years, you are more likely to face jail time.
  • LAO takes so many factors into consideration when assessing eligibility that it’s never clear cut who will be approved. That’s why it’s important to speak to a lawyer who can help you apply for a criminal legal aid certificate.

Changes to LAO eligibility:

– LAO will make criminal legal aid certificates available to eligible adult accuseds with no prior criminal record or eligible youth accuseds with no prior dispositions if the Crown is seeking a conviction or a discharge and:

• the accused is First Nation, Métis or Inuit,

• the accused has mental illness, or

  • the accused is victim of domestic violence charged with offence related to victim’s partner.

Secondary circumstances:

  • LAO now considers a number of secondary circumstances when assessing elgibility.
  • LAO will now make certificates available to accuseds who face these secondary circumstances upon conviction:
    • immediate loss of existing livelihood or professional accreditation
    • immediate loss of existing or planned educational opportunity
    • significant impact on access to family and child custody
    • risk of deportation
    • • immediate loss of public housing, social assistance, or other public benefits/social services
    • risk of being added to sexual offenders registry

So you’ve been charged with a crime…

  • to sum up, if you’ve been charged with a crime and you need legal aid, you should call 1-800-668-8258 or contact a lawyer to help you through the legal aid application.
  • Your lawyer can attend your first appearance with you, from there they will take you to the legal aid office. In Hamilton, the office is located on the first floor of the John Sopinka Court house. LAO will then assess your eligibility – based on the factors discussed above and based on documentation you provide.
  • If you are not eligible for legal aid you have the ability to appeal (more on that later) or you have the opportunity to discuss a private retainer with your lawyer.
  • If you are eligible for legal aid, you will be issued a certificate number and a client number.
  • Your lawyer will also be able to access your certificate but it’s always a good idea to give them a call and let them know once you’re approved.
  • Once your lawyer has your certificate, it means that they are able to fully represent you – but don’t forget, you still have to go to all of your court dates.

criminal legal aid