Summary vs Indictable Offences
Summary offence and Indictable offence are two terms that should be used differently to mean different ideas. An indictable offence is a more serious offence than a summary offence and can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing, which cannot be heard in the absence of the defendant. As a matter of fact in trials for indictable offences, the accused normally has the right to a jury trial. A summary offence on the other hand refers to trial without the customary legal formalities. Unlike the trials in indictable offence, here the trial can be heard in the absence of the defendant. It is also referred to by the name summary justice.
It is called summary conviction if the conviction is made by a judge or magistrate without a jury. On the other hand the accused in the case of the indictable offence has the right to a jury trial. This is the one of the main difference between summary and indictable offence.
A summary offence on the other hand refers to an offence within the scope of a summary court. Some offences such as rape and murder are considered very serious that they can only be tried on indictment at the Crown Court wherein a judge can choose between a wide range of sentencing powers. This is also one of the important differences between summary offence and indictable offence.
In some countries what is considered indictable offences by other courts will be considered in High Court as in New Zealand. In this country a rape or murder charge will be tried at the High Court while less serious offences like theft and the like will be tried at the District Court.
It is important to note that the rules and regulations pertaining to indictable offences vary in the case of offenders under 18 years of age. These are the differences between summary and indictable offences.