Summary offences are those crimes of lesser severity which must be finalized in a local court by a magistrate. Summary offences have a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment or less.
If a person is accused of a summary offence, the police must commence their proceedings against the accused person within six months of the date that the offence was said to have been committed. There are however exceptions to this general rule.
This means that two dates become critical. The first is the time of the alleged offence and the second is the time that the proceedings are commenced.
Where the offence is a single act, such as an assault, the time that the offence was alleged to be committed is straightforward.
However, where the offence is a continuous offence, meaning that it can be discontinued at will by the offender, (e.g. keeping stolen goods in custody) the offence will be taken to be committed just before the illegal act was discontinued.
The Criminal Procedure Act states that proceedings are commenced by the police or a prosecuting authority when the Court Attendance Notice (‘CAN)’ is filed in the court registry.
Often, when a person is arrested and charged for a minor offence, they are issued an on the spot or field CAN. The issuing of this notice does not however, commence the proceedings for the purpose of the Criminal Procedure Act. It may be the case that the CAN is not filed in the court registry until some time later.
In other instances, the police or prosecuting authority might spend a substantial amount of time investigating an offence before charging anyone. If this is the case it is important to ensure that any charge has been laid within the time limits set by the Criminal Procedure Act.
If you have any questions relating to summary offences please do not hesitate to contact Everingham Solomons Solicitors because Helping You is Our Business.
Click here for more information on Clint Coles.