Indictable offences are divided into major indictable offences and minor indictable offences. Major indictable offences must be dealt with in the superior courts (District or Supreme). Minor indictable offences are dealt with in the Magistrates Court unless the defendant chooses to have the charge dealt with in a superior court. This is an important decision, and should only be taken after receiving legal advice.
If dealt with in the magistrates court, minor indictable matters are prosecuted by the police. If the defendant elects for trial by jury, the Committal Unit, staffed by solicitors from the State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), takes over the conduct of the matter at the magistrates court. The DPP has the conduct of the matter once it reaches the District or Supreme court.
Minor indictable offences are defined in s 5 of the Summary Procedure Act 1921 (SA) as:
- offences not punishable by imprisonment and having a maximum fine exceeding $120 000;
- offences with a maximum imprisonment of five years;
- offences with a maximum imprisonment greater than five years, being one of the following: - an offence involving interference with, damage to or destruction of property where the loss resulting from commission of the offence does not exceed $30 000; - an offence involving a threat to interfere with, damage or destroy another person's property where if the threat had been carried out, the loss resulting would not have exceeded $30 000; - recklessly causing harm [see Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) s 24(2)]; - indecent assault (where the victim is 14 years of age or older) [see Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) s 54]; - dishonesty offences where the amount involved is $30 000 or less (but not robbery or offences of violence); and; - serious criminal trespass where the intended offence is an offence of dishonesty (not being an offence of violence) involving $30 000 or less, or an offence of interference with, damage to or destruction of property involving $30 000 or less.
Some examples of minor indictable offences are listed below, with the relevant sections of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) noted:
- Theft and receiving [s 134](where the loss resulting from commission of offence is between $2501 - $30 000 total);
- Deception [s 139 (where the loss resulting from commission of offence is between $2501 - $30 000 total);
- Serious criminal trespass — places of residence [s 170; non-residential places [s 169];
- Illegal use/ interference with a motor vehicle (subsequent offence) [s 86A];
- Aggravated assault causing harm [s 20(4)];
- Indecent assault [s 56];
- Causing harm [s 24];
- Stalking [s 19AA];
- Gross indecency [s 58]; and
- Property damage [s 85] (where the damage is less than $30 000 but more than $2501).
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