Indictable offence

In many common law jurisdictions (e.g., England and Wales, Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore), an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury (in contrast to a summary offence). In the United States, a crime of similar severity and rules is called a felony, which also requires an indictment.

England and Wales

In relation to England and Wales, the expression indictable offence means an offence which, if committed by an adult, is triable on indictment, whether it is exclusively so triable or triable either way; and the term indictable, in its application to offences, is to be construed accordingly. In this definition, references to the way or ways in which an offence is triable are to be construed without regard to the effect, if any, of section 22 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 on the mode of trial in a particular case.[1]

An either-way offence allows the defendant to elect between trial by jury on indictment in the Crown Court and summary trial in a magistrates' court. However, the election may be overruled by the magistrates' court if the facts suggest that the sentencing powers of a magistrates' court would be inadequate to reflect the seriousness of the offence.

In relation to some indictable offences, for example criminal damage, only summary trial is available unless the damage caused exceeds £5,000.

A youth court has jurisdiction to try all indictable offences with the exception of homicide and certain firearms offences, and will normally do so provided that the available sentencing power of two years' detention is adequate to punish the offender if found guilty.


See section 64 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

Grand juries were abolished in 1933.

Offences triable only on indictment

Some offences such as murder and rape are considered so serious that they can only be tried on indictment at the Crown Court where the widest range of sentencing powers is available to the judge.

The expression indictable-only offence was defined by section 51 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, as originally enacted, as an offence triable only on indictment. Sections 51 and 52 of, and Schedule 3 to, that Act abolished committal proceedings for such offences and made other provisions in relation to them.

When the accused is charged with an indictable-only offence, he or she will be tried in the Crown Court. The rules are different in England and Wales in respect of those under 18 years of age.

See also section 14(a) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

New Zealand

Similarly in New Zealand, a rape or murder charge will be tried at the High Court, while less serious offences such as theft, will be tried at the District Court. However, the District Court can hold both jury and summary trials.


For differences between indictable offences and summary offences see summary offences.

United States

In United States penal law, other than a felony, court findings of, or an act of gross negligence can be counted as an indictable offence.

See also


  1. ^ The Interpretation Act 1978, section 5 and Schedule 1 (in the heading "construction of certain expressions relating to offences"), as amended by section 154 of, and paragraph 169 of Schedule 7 to, the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980.
Accessories and Abettors Act 1861

The Accessories and Abettors Act 1861 (24 & 25 Vict. c.94) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (as it then was). It consolidated provisions in English criminal law related to accomplices from a number of earlier statutes into a single Act. For the most part these provisions were, according to the draftsman of the Act, incorporated with little or no variation in their phraseology. It is one of a group of Acts sometimes referred to as the criminal law consolidation Acts 1861. It was passed with the object of simplifying the law. It collects the scattered provisions on the subject contained in Peel's Acts (and the equivalent Irish Acts), incorporating subsequent statutes.

Aiding and abetting

Aiding and abetting is a legal doctrine related to the guilt of someone who aids or abets in the commission of a crime (or in another's suicide). It exists in a number of different countries and generally allows a court to pronounce someone guilty for aiding and abetting in a crime even if they are not the principal offender.


An arrest is the act of apprehending a person and taking them into custody, usually because they have been suspected of committing or planning a crime. After the person is taken into custody, they can be questioned further and/or charged. An arrest is a procedure in a criminal justice system.

Police and various other officers have powers of arrest. In some places, a citizen's arrest is permitted; for example in England and Wales, any person can arrest "anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be committing, have committed or be guilty of committing an indictable offence," although certain conditions must be met before taking such action.Similar powers exist in France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland if a person is caught in an act of crime and not willing or able to produce valid ID.

As a safeguard against the abuse of power, many countries require that an arrest must be made for a thoroughly justified reason, such as the requirement of probable cause in the United States. Furthermore, the time that a person can be detained in custody is relatively short (in most cases 24 hours in the United Kingdom and France and 24 or 48 hours in the United States) before the detained person must be either charged or released.

Citizen's arrest

A citizen's arrest is an arrest made by a person who is not acting as a sworn law-enforcement official. In common law jurisdictions, the practice dates back to medieval England and the English common law, in which sheriffs encouraged ordinary citizens to help apprehend law breakers.Despite the practice's name, in most countries, the arresting person is usually designated as a person with arrest powers, who need not be a citizen of the country in which they are acting. For example, in the British jurisdiction of England and Wales, the power comes from section 24A(2) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, called "any person arrest". This legislation states "any person" has these powers, and does not state that they need to be a British citizen.

Court of First Instance (Hong Kong)

The Court of First Instance is the lower court of the High Court of Hong Kong, the upper court being the Court of Appeal. Formerly the High Court of Justice of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong, it was renamed the Court of First Instance by the Basic Law after the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China.

The Court of First Instance is the highest court in Hong Kong that can hear cases at first instance with unlimited jurisdiction in both civil and criminal matters. It hears predominantly civil cases but only relatively few criminal cases were heard at first instance, mostly involving the most serious crimes such as homicide offences, rape, serious drugs offences and major commercial frauds.

It is also an appellate court hearing appeals against decisions made by Masters as well as those of:

Magistrates' Courts

Small Claims Tribunal

Obscene Articles Tribunal

Labour Tribunal

Minor Employment Claims Adjudication BoardIt is the only court in Hong Kong where cases are tried by a judge with a jury (although the inquisition in Coroner’s court may involve a jury). The Basic Law only maintains 'the trial by jury previously practised in Hong Kong' but it does not make jury trial an absolute right. In the case of Chiang Lily v Secretary for Justice, the court confirmed that "there does not exist, in Hong Kong, any absolute right to trial by jury nor any mechanism by which a person to be tried of an indictable offence may elect to be so tried" (per Wright J.). A defendant will only face a jury trial if he is tried in the Court of First Instance, and the decision is the prerogative of the Secretary for Justice.

The Court of First Instance is bound by the ratio of previous decisions of higher courts (including the Court of Final Appeal and Court of Appeal of the High Court, as well as all Hong Kong cases previously decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council) that have not been overruled.


Delict (from Latin dēlictum, past participle of dēlinquere ‘to be at fault, offend’) is a term in civil law jurisdictions for a civil wrong consisting of an intentional or negligent breach of duty of care that inflicts loss or harm and which triggers legal liability for the wrongdoer; however, its meaning varies from one jurisdiction to another. Other civil wrongs include breach of contract and breach of trust. Liability is imposed on the basis of moral responsibility, i.e. a duty of care or to act, and fault (culpa) is the main element of liability. The term is used in mixed legal systems such as Scotland, South Africa, Louisiana and the Philippines, but tort is the equivalent legal term used in common law jurisdictions.

The exact meaning of delict varies between legal systems but it is always centred on the Roman law idea of wrongful conduct.

In Spanish law, delito is any breach of criminal law, i.e. a criminal offence. In Italian law, delitto penale is the same concept, but illecito civile extracontrattuale (or delitto civile), like delict in Scots law, is an intentional or negligent act which gives rise to a legal obligation between parties even though there has been no contract between them, akin to common-law tort. German-speaking countries use the word Delikt for crime and unerlaubte Handlung for delict, but Deliktsrecht is a branch of civil law (similar to tort law). In French law, délit penal is a misdemeanor (between contravention ‘petty offence’ and crime ‘felony; major indictable offence’), while délit civil, again, is a tort. Because of this, French law prefers to speak in terms of responsabilité civile ‘delictual liability’. In the canon law of the Catholic Church, a delict is a crime.

Director of Public Prosecutions (New South Wales)

The New South Wales Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) is an independent prosecuting service and government agency within the portfolio of the Attorney General of New South Wales. Of all prosecuting services in Australia, the ODPP has the largest caseload, staff, and budget.The current Director of Public Prosecutions is Lloyd Babb .

False accounting

False accounting is a statutory offence in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Hopkins Correctional Centre

Hopkins Correctional Centre is an Australian medium security protection prison for males, is located in Ararat, Victoria, approximately 200 kilometres (120 mi) west of Melbourne. The centre is operated by Corrections Victoria, part of the Department of Justice of the Victorian Government. The centre accepts prisoners convicted of an indictable offence under Victorian and/or Commonwealth legislation, including a high proportion of sex offenders and protection or special needs prisoners.

Hybrid offence

A hybrid offence, dual offence, Crown option offence, dual procedure offence, offence triable either way, or wobbler is one of the special class offences in the common law jurisdictions where the case may be prosecuted either summarily or as indictment. In the United States, an alternative misdemeanor/felony offense (colloquially known as a wobbler) lists both county jail (misdemeanor sentence) and state prison (felony sentence) as possible punishment. Similarly, a wobblette is a crime that can be charged either as a misdemeanor or an infraction.


An indictment ( in-DYT-mənt) is a criminal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that use the concept of felonies, the most serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that do not use the felonies concept often use that of an indictable offence, an offence that requires an indictment.

Institutes of the Lawes of England

The Institutes of the Lawes of England are a series of legal treatises written by Sir Edward Coke. They were first published, in stages, between 1628 and 1644. Widely recognized as a foundational document of the common law, they have been cited in over 70 cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, including several landmark cases. For example, in Roe v. Wade (1973), Coke's Institutes are cited as evidence that under old English common law, an abortion performed before quickening was not an indictable offence. In the much earlier case of United States v. E. C. Knight Co. (1895), Coke's Institutes are quoted at some length for their definition of monopolies. The Institutes's various reprinted editions well into the 19th century is a clear indication of the long lasting value placed on this work throughout especially the 18th century in Britain and Europe. It has also been associated through the years with high literary connections. For example, David Hume in 1764 requested it from the bookseller Andrew Millar in a cheap format for a French friend.

Intimidation of Parliament

Intimidation of Parliament is a criminal law in Canada that makes it a crime to violently intimidate the Parliament of Canada and the provincial legislatures. The maximum sentence is fourteen years. It reads:

Intimidating Parliament or legislature51. Every one who does an act of violence in order to intimidate Parliament or the legislature of a province is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.The law is one of only a handful of criminal offences, including treason and piracy, that are automatically heard by the relevant provincial superior court—composed of federally appointed, salaried, and disciplined judges—rather than the inferior Provincial courts, which are composed of provincially appointed judges. It is a very rare crime. One of the only individuals to be charged with the crime in recent decades was Charles Yacoub who hijacked a Greyhound bus and had it driven onto Parliament Hill in 1989. In his trial Yacoub was later found not guilty of the particular charge.


A misdemeanor (American English, spelled misdemeanour in British English) is any "lesser" criminal act in some common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions (also known as minor, petty, or summary offences) and regulatory offences. Many misdemeanors are punished with monetary fines.

Port of Tilbury Police

The Port of Tilbury Police is a small, specialised police force responsible for policing the Port of Tilbury, owned by the Port of Tilbury London Ltd, a subsidiary of Forth Ports plc. Any serious or major incidents or crimes become the responsibility of the local territorial police force police force, Essex Police. The port is not a separate police area, and as such Essex Police retain statutory policing responsibility for all of Essex, including the port area, working with the Port of Tilbury Police as and when required.

Provincial Court of British Columbia

The Provincial Court of British Columbia (BC Provincial Court) is a trial level court in British Columbia that hears cases in criminal, civil and family matters.

The Provincial Court is a creation of statute, and as such its jurisdiction is limited to only those matters over which is permitted by statute. It has no inherent jurisdiction, other than to the limited degree in which it may control its own procedures. Its caseload falls into one of four main categories: criminal and youth matters; family matters; small claims matters; and traffic and bylaw matters.

In criminal matters, it is a trial court for all summary conviction offences. For indictable

criminal offences, it can be a trial court if an accused person elects to have his or her trial in that court. When an accused charged with an indictable offence elects trial by a superior court (the British Columbia Supreme Court), his preliminary inquiry will be held in the Provincial Court. The court will also deal with bail applications on most criminal charges except murder and a select few other offences. It is also designated as the Youth Justice Court under the Youth Criminal Justice Act of Canada.

In civil matters, the Small Claims division of the court is limited to claims for debt or damages up to $35,000, or where the claimant agrees to abandon his or her claim for any amount in excess of $35,000. The Provincial Court also has limited family law jurisdiction, except for divorce proceedings and the division of matrimonial property. The Supreme Court of British Columbia shares jurisdiction over all matters that may be heard by the Provincial Court, except where exclusive jurisdiction may be conferred by statute on the Provincial Court.

Judges of the Provincial Court are appointed by the provincial cabinet, on recommendation of the Attorney General. In court, judges are referred to as "Your Honour".

All courts in the Province of British Columbia display the Arms of Her Majesty in Right of the United Kingdom, as a symbol of its judiciary [1].

Sue Rodriguez

Sue Rodriguez (August 2, 1950 – February 12, 1994) was a Canadian right to die activist. In August 1991, she was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease) and was given two to five years to live. She ultimately made the decision to end her life and she sought the assistance of a doctor to that end. However, none would help her; under section 241(b) of the nation's Criminal Code, anyone who "...aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years". Rodriguez sought a legal exception in her home province, British Columbia, but was denied.

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed a lawsuit, Rodriguez v British Columbia (AG), that challenged section 241(b) as contrary to sections 7, 12, and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In a videotaped address to Parliament on November 24, 1992, Rodriguez famously asked, “If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?” On May 20, 1993, her case was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. On September 30 of that year, it decided against her 5-4.On February 12, 1994, with the assistance of an anonymous doctor, Sue Rodriguez took her own life by ingesting a liquid mixture of morphine and secobarbital The doctor's intervention was arranged by MP Svend Robinson, who was regarded as one of Rodriguez's most prominent supporters. Robinson was present at her death. However, by her request, her ex-husband Henry and their son Cole were not. An investigation was undertaken, but no charges were laid. Robinson has vowed never to reveal the anonymous doctor's identity.

Almost 23 years later, on June 7, 2016, physician-assisted suicide became legal in Canada as the result of a similar Supreme Court case, Carter v Canada (AG). The Court unanimously struck down parts of section 241(b) and section 14 of the Criminal Code which the justices ruled unjustifiably infringed on section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Summary offence

A summary offence is a crime in some common law jurisdictions that can be proceeded against summarily, without the right to a jury trial and/or indictment (required for an indictable offence).

Wasting police time

Wasting police time is listed as a criminal offence in many Commonwealth countries.

Classes of crimes
Elements of crimes
Inchoate offences
Offences against the person
Sexual offences
Public order offences
Offences against property
Forgery, personation and cheating
Offences against justice
Other common law areas


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