Glossary

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This legal glossary is a basic guide to common legal terms. A lawyer is in the best position to advise you about your legal rights and responsibilities.

Different terms may have different meanings based on the specific area of law or the context in which they are being used. For legal terms not referred to in this glossary, or for more comprehensive definitions, you may wish to refer to a legal dictionary or to an internet resource.

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Offence
A violation of the law.
Hybrid Offence
Term applied to a criminal offence which may be tried by summary conviction procedure or by indictment at the option of the prosecutor. A hybrid offence is an indictable offence until the Crown elects to proceed by way of summary conviction. The difference is in the process followed.
Indictable Offence
More serious criminal offences that carry longer maximum sentences and higher fines; these offences are also subject to more complex court procedures, including the right to a preliminary hearing before a trial in the Superior Court of Justice.
Quasi-Criminal Offence
A non-criminal offence that carries a penalty similar to that of a criminal offence, but that is subject to less complex court procedures than are criminal offences. For example traffic and workplace safety offences.
Regulatory Offence
A non-criminal offence that regulates conduct in the public interest, such as securities regulations. Regulatory offences are often dealt with at administrative tribunals and not in a court setting.
Summary Conviction Offence
These criminal offences carry lower maximum penalties and are subject to less complex court procedures. These matters are heard in the Ontario Court of Justice.