Canadian Law: limitations(?)

The tutor watches American soap operas, whence he sometimes hears “statute of limitations.” Is there a similar construct in Canada?

I watch Days of Our Lives. Kristen Dimera, freshly back in Salem a few years ago, explained that though she had left under a cloud, she was now safe to return, due to the Statute of Limitations.

Somehow, I was skeptical. Then again, laws can differ widely from state to state in the US. Possibly, there is a state where the Statute of Limitations has such power. For all I know, there may be many. I decided to start from a Canadian point of view.

I’ve never studied Canadian Law. From what I’ve been able to discover, however, there are three types of criminal offences in Canada: summary, indictable, and hybrid.

For summary offences, the limitation period may be only six months. Summary crimes are the less serious ones. However, not many crimes are defined as summary. More about this below.

An indictable offence is the more serious type of crime. What I’ve read tells me that in Canada, there is no statute of limitations for indictable offences.

Hybrid means the offence can be charged as either summary or indictable, at the Crown’s discretion. By far most common crimes are hybrid.

Let’s imagine that years ago, person X committed theft under $5000, which is a hybrid offence. If now the case arrives at court, person X can be charged. When the charges are laid, the Crown will classify the offence as either summary or indictable. Beforehand, though, the defendant may not know for sure which classification the offence will receive.

If the Crown decides to classify the charge as summary, the process might stop, since there is generally a six month limitation on summary offences.

On the other hand, the Crown can classify the offence as indictable, in which case no time limitations apply. Then the Crown might try to convict, offer conditions, or what have you.

Under Canadian law, I doubt Kristen Dimera would escape prosecution based on the Statute of Limitations. However, the Dimera legal team could probably soften the impact significantly.



Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.