Indictable and Summary, Misdemeanours and Felonies
Criminal offences vary in degrees of severity, and thus require varying degrees of punishment. American law jurisdiction divides criminal offences into more serious crimes referred to as felonies, and less serious and punishable crimes known as misdemeanours. Similarly, Australian law jurisdiction, separates criminal offences by severity into indictable or summary offences.
Australian Law: Indictable Criminal Offences
Indictable crimes are the most serious kind of criminal offence within the Australian law system. Unlike summary crimes, they require a trial by both judge and jury, and are always reviewed by either the supreme or district court. Major indictable crimes include offences such as murder and grand theft, while minor indictable crimes constitute offences such as the unlawful destruction of property that involve $30,000 or less. Minor indictable crimes result in a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment, while major indictable crimes have no necessary limit of punishment.
Australian Law: Summary Criminal Offences
Unlike indictable crimes, summary crimes do not necessitate a trial or hearing within a superior court. However, although usually the Magistrates court deals with these summary criminal offences, defendants of summary crimes still can request to have the matter handled in a superior court. Examples of these criminal offences include indecent assault, stalking, and crimes such as theft or destruction of property with financial consequences less than $30,000. According to the Summary Procedure Act 1921, crimes that constitute a Summary crime, have either a maximum penalty of two years of imprisonment or have a penalty of a maximum fine of $120,000 and no imprisonment.
American Law: Felonies
Felonies under American law jurisdiction are similar to indictable crimes within Australian law. They can range from white-collar crimes to murder or man-slaughter, and can result in an array of penalties, anywhere from paying a large fine to capital punishment. Consequences of conviction of a felony extend even further past jail time and/or fines, as they also forbid someone of the right to vote, serve on juries, and likely acquire or maintain any professional career.
American Law: Misdemeanours
Misdemeanours are criminal offences deemed worthy of a maximum penalty of one year in jail by American law. They include crimes such as DUI’s, loitering, or petty theft. The factors central in distinguishing a misdemeanour from a felony include severity, frequency, and if there was a victim, the character, age, and nature of the victim. These factors also play a role in placing misdemeanours into different classes based on severity that help the judge by delineating the appropriate punishment for the misdemeanour committed.
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