Please be ready with your application reference number starting with 'P'. For example P1234567
There are two types of offences in Western Australia. Indictable offences and summary offences. Indictable offences are termed crimes, whereas summary offences are termed simple offences. There exists a third category of offences in Western Australia, which is known as an “either way offence”. These are dealt with in the two categories depending on the circumstances.
Indictable offences are serious criminal offences. They are such offences that are considered a threat to society at large. Serious indictable offences have serious consequences and the relevant courts hear these on preference.
In indictable offences, the party suing and perusing the case is the state itself, presented by a Public Prosecutor - Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in WA. The other party is the accused, whoever the accused is.
Which Court Handles Indictable offences?
The indictable offences are the most severe crimes, and they have severe penalties. The cases involving an indictable offence start in the Magistrates court. They then move ahead to either the Supreme Court of Western Australia or the District Courts of Western Australia.
These cases are heard in the higher courts because under section 3(2) of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 (WA), the indictable offence cases are only possible on indictment. In simple words, the accused has the right that the judge or jury will hear their matter. So an Indictable hearing generally does not take place in lower courts like a Magistrates Court unless if permitted in the legislation (for example, if the offence attracts imprisonment time of less than two years).
As per section 3(6) of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913, indictment cases prosecution can be commenced at any time, unless and until provided by a written amendment. It means, in simple words, that there is no limitation period on the commencement of an indictment offence trial.
Western Australian legislation defines the indictment offences as the state's criminal offences. The following acts describe it;
The above Acts deal with the indictment offences in Western Australia. Different sections in the above acts deal with varying violations of a charge. Sections 552 to 555 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation 1913 deals with indictment offences.
Attempts to commit indictable offences - Section 555 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation 1913 (WA)
A person is guilty of an indictable offence if he attempts to commit an indictable crime.
Incitement to commit the indictable offence - Section 553 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation 1913 (WA)
If a person committing motivates another person to commit the crime, they are then guilty of an indictable offence.
The following are major indictable offences commonly recognised in Western Australian law and in most cases cannot be treated as a summary (simple) offence in WA.
The penalty for indictment offences varies according to the availability of proof, evidence, and the crime's gravity. However, according to the Criminal Code Act Compilation 1913, the maximum penalty for the offender is life imprisonment.
The Criminal Procedure Act 2004 (WA) explains the criminal and court procedures for dealing with an indictable offence.
Since there must be a committal/disclosure hearing before the court, all the indictable offences are heard and dealt with in the Magistrates courts of Western Australia before being transferred to a court of higher jurisdiction (if required). At this stage, before taking the accused person's plea, the court needs to be satisfied with the full prosecution disclosure of the case.
If the accused pleads guilty
If the accused pleads guilty, the case shifts to a higher court for Sentence mention hearing as per s 41(3) of the Criminal Procedure Act 2004 (WA). At the sentence mentioned hearing, if both the accused and the prosecution are ready to precede the sentencing, the court will give a date for the Sentencing Hearing.
If the accused pleads not-guilty
If the accused pleads not-guilty, the matter shifts to a court of higher jurisdiction for a Direction Hearing; s 41(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act 2004 (WA). Indictable offences that are not punishable by life imprisonment shift to District Courts of Western Australia. Violations that are punishable by life imprisonment, are transferred to the Supreme Court of Western Australia.
Jude or the judge and jury
Unless an order is released under Section 118 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2004 (WA), all the indictable offences are tried by jury. But after implementation of section 118, the trial will be heard by a judge alone.
Section 118 is made for the purpose that the judge will decide the case alone. The court implement section 118 if,
When a trial is an unreasonable burden on the jury due to complexity, the court makes the order for a judge alone.
Under section 123 of the Criminal Code (WA), if the case "threatens or corrupts a juror," the order for a lone judge is made.
However, if the court thinks that the case needs to be heard by a jury to assist with standards or factual issues, then they can dismiss the application for a judge alone.
Jury trials are heard based on the principles that the jury determines the questions of facts, and the judge determines the questions of law. The jury determines the points from the shreds of evidence presented by the accused and the prosecution. After selecting the facts, the jury decides whether the accused is guilty or not, and then the court verdict is delivered.
Some of the offences in Western Australia are known as ‘either-way offences’. They are either dealt with within the summary offences or indictment offences category. To fit within a class depends on the case facts and circumstances given. They are sorted out in the Magistrates Courts summarily or in District courts as indictment offences depending on the nature of the offence.
Indictable offences are classified by the legislation to be the most serious types of criminal offences. The offence will be disclosed on a criminal history check result.
Due to the seriousness of indictable offences and their long associated imprisonment terms, an indictable offence will not be eligible to get expunged from an individual’s criminal record as per WA’s spent convictions scheme legislation.
Individuals can obtain their criminal record check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.
Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 (WA) - https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_218_homepage.html
Restraining Orders Act 1997 (WA) - https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_822_homepage.html
Firearms Act 1973 (WA) - https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_339_homepage.html
Misuse of Drugs Act 1981 (WA) - https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_609_homepage.html
Criminal Procedure Act 2004 (WA) - https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_229_homepage.html
Legal Aid Western Australia (Types of Offences) - https://www.legalaid.wa.gov.au/find-legal-answers/crime/going-court-criminal-charge/types-offences
Magistrates Court of Western Australia (Criminal Matters) - https://www.magistratescourt.wa.gov.au/c/criminal_matters_print.asp
The content on this website is communicated to you on behalf of Australian National Character Check™ (ANCC®) pursuant to Part VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act).
The material in this communication may be subject to copyright under the Act. Any further reproduction of this material may be the subject of copyright protection under the Act.
You may include a link on your website pointing to this content for commercial, educational, governmental or personal use.
The contents of this website do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice.