Q&As

What is the time limit for bringing a prosecution for a summary only offence?

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Published on LexisPSL on 26/03/2020

The following Corporate Crime Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What is the time limit for bringing a prosecution for a summary only offence?
  • Time limit for commencing a prosecution for a summary only criminal offence
  • Substituted summary offences

What is the time limit for bringing a prosecution for a summary only offence?

We refer you to Practice Note: Commencing criminal proceedings—applying for the issue of a summons under the heading Time limits for summary only offences which includes information we hope you will find helpful in relation to your question.

Time limit for commencing a prosecution for a summary only criminal offence

The general rule for time limits on summary only offences is that prosecutions will be time barred if information is laid more than six months after the date of the offence. The magistrates court allows for different time limits to apply where they are explicitly provided for in statutes. This is replicated in rule 7.2(10) of the Criminal Procedure Rules. Provided it is laid within that time, it does not matter if the summons is not issued by the court within that time limit. Failure to observe these statutory time limits will mean the prosecution will be time-barred from commencing proceedings.

Where an offence consists of a course of conduct, and the last incident relied on to complete it occurred within six months of the laying of the information, section 127 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 (MCA 1980) is not violated (DPP v Baker).

See also Commentaries: Time-limit for Starting

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