What Is An Indictable Offence In Canada?

What happens to those who are convicted of murder, terrorism, or other serious crimes? In Canada, these are known as indictable offences; they have the most serious punishments of all criminal activities. In the United States, these offences are referred to as felonies.

Unlike a summary offence, there is no limitation period for an indictable offence. Regardless of how many years have passed since the crime occurred, an individual can still be charged and convicted.

What distinguishes an indictable offence from a less serious crime? And if an individual is found guilty, what potential punishments might they face? We’re going to share some information about indictable offences in Canada:

Types of Indictable Offences

You may be wondering which crimes are considered indictable offences. These criminal activities often cause significant harm to the well-being of a person or their property. Examples of indictable offences include:

  • First or second-degree murder
  • Theft over $5000
  • Assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Dangerous driving or vehicular manslaughter 
  • Treason
  • Drug trafficking
  • Terrorism

In some cases, a crime may be classified as a hybrid offence. This means that it’s unclear whether the case should be tried as an indictable or summary offence. The Crown will decide how to proceed with the trial. 

Certain offences have minimum sentences; this means that, regardless of the situation, the judge must sentence them to no less than the specified penalty. However, there may be exceptions if the accused is a minor.

Sentences for Indictable Offences

What happens to an individual who is convicted of an indictable offence? If the accused has committed multiple offences, punishments are generally more severe. While sentences vary based on the severity of the crime, a few common punishments include:


An individual may be mandated to pay a fine for their crimes. The amount will vary based on the severity of the crime, but it may be several thousands of dollars. 

A Criminal Record

In many cases, an indictable offence will appear permanently on one’s criminal record. A criminal record can make it challenging to find employment, housing, and/or make travel arrangements. It causes issues for those who are convicted years after they have served their sentence.  

Prison & Life Sentences Without Parole

Those who are convicted of an indictable offence often face lengthy prison sentences. Depending on the length of the sentence, they may be required to serve their jail time in a provincial institution (less than 2 years) or a federal penitentiary (more than 2 years).

Undoubtedly, the most serious consequence of an indictable offence is life in prison. Certain offences, such as first-degree murder, carry a minimum sentence of life imprisonment. 

Parole gives a second chance to those convicted of crimes. With it, a person can reintegrate in society by serving their sentence outside of prison and under supervision. But if someone is found guilty of an indictable offence, they may be charged with 25 years in prison with no possibility for parole. 

If you are charged with an indictable offence, it’s imperative that you hire a criminal defence lawyer. They can ensure that your rights are protected during the trial and build a sound defence for your case.

At Brodsky Amy & Gould, we offer legal representation to those who are accused of indictable offences. Our criminal lawyers have years of experience defending people who are facing serious charges, including murder or assault. Get in contact with us today.