Types of Criminal Offences: Your Griffith Code Guide
The term crime is a broad description of actions that constitutes an offence punishable by law. There are different kinds of crimes depending on the circumstances, victim, and damages done. For example, public nuisance and murder are both criminal offences, but the degree of punishment are not the same.
Section 3 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) divides offences as follows:
- simple offences
- regulatory offences.
All offences are either criminal offences or regulatory offences.
Criminal offences may then be an indictable offence or a simple offence (also known as a summary offence). Indictable offences are either crimes or misdemeanours and are dealt with in the Supreme, District or Magistrates Court. These include such crimes as murder, manslaughter, rape, drug trafficking, grievous bodily harm.
Simple and regulatory offences can be dealt with summarily in a Magistrates Court.
Indictable offences cannot be dealt with summarily (i.e. in the Magistrates Court, a court of summary jurisdiction) unless otherwise expressly stated.
An indictable offence must be prosecuted on an indictment (a written charge by a person authorised to prosecute criminal offences) before a judge and jury in the District or Supreme Court. Although in certain circumstances, a charge on indictment may be prosecuted before a judge alone, without a jury, an example being where a child charged with an indictable offence elects to have a Judge only trial under the Youth Justice Act 1992 (Qld) section 98.
Indictable offences may also be tried or dealt with summarily where there is statutory provision to do so, s 552 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) lists crimes that may be or must be dealt with summarily, generally these will be where a conviction carries a maximum sentence of three years or less, or it is an offence under part 6 of the Code (excluding Chapter 42A) for which the monetary value is less than $30,000 or the offender pleads guilty, and the offender is liable for a maximum period of imprisonment which is less than 14 years imprisonment.
A simple offence (also known as a summary offence) is a less serious offence. Examples of simple offences include being a public nuisance, urinating in public, throwing things at a sporting event, or trespass.
Some indictable offences may be dealt with summarily
If a criminal offence is not otherwise designated (e.g. as a misdemeanour or crime), it is automatically a simple offence.
Simple offences are always heard in the Magistrates Court.
Regulatory offences are set out in the Regulatory Offences Act 1985 (Qld) and include acts such as:
- stealing goods valued at $150 or less from a shop
- leaving a hotel or restaurant without payment of a bill for goods or services valued at $150 or less
- damaging property valued at $250 or less.
Regulatory offences must be finalised in the Magistrates Court and all offences carry fines as the maximum penalty according to the Act.
You can put all types of criminal offences into five primary categories: crimes against a person, crimes against property, financial crimes, statutory crimes, and attempted crimes. Read more below about each of them:
Crimes Against a Person
These are criminal activities that result in harming a person both physically and mentally. There are two major sub-categories of the crime against a person, which are violent crimes and homicide. When the act results in the victim’s death, the defendant may be charged with various types of homicide, including manslaughter, murder, reckless indifference to human life, unlawful striking causing death or dangerous driving causing death.
Dangerous driving causing death includes traffic crimes that may result in the victim’s death. The violent criminal offences may include child abuse, domestic abuse, kidnapping, rape and many others.
Crimes Against Property
Though seen as less severe than crimes against a person, crimes against property can also land you in jail. These crimes have varying degrees of liability depending on the circumstance and the level of damages. One of the most common crimes is Burglary.
Other common and serious crimes against property include stealing, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, shoplifting and fraud. Depending on the circumstance, the defendant may receive a fine, community serve order or serve jail term.
Financial crimes are criminal activities aiming for a financial benefit. They are also referred to as white collar crimes, usually involves corporate officers. However, anyone can commit a financial crime as long as they use deception or fraud to obtain financial benefits.
Some of the white-collar crimes include money laundering, cybercrime, fraud, Ponzi Schemes, embezzlement, tax evasion, and many others.
Attempts to Commit Offences
When a person tries to commit an offence but does not complete it, they may be charged with attempting to commit that offence. Before a person can be guilty of attempting to commit an offence, the prosecution must prove that they:
- intended to commit the offence
- commenced executing that intention into action and
- performed some overt act by which that intention was manifested (s 4 Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld).
In most cases, the maximum punishment for an attempt to commit an offence is half of the maximum punishment for actually committing the offence (ss 536–538 Criminal Code).
If you’re charged with a crime, the first thing your criminal defence lawyer should do is to establish whether the crime has been correctly categorised. This is to protect you from getting harsher punishment as well as to put up a strong defence.
Contact our team at Bouchier Khan Lawyers if you require professional legal help with any of the aforementioned charges.