If the police arrest you under a summary conviction, they can (in most cases) do so without an arrest warrant.
For your case to proceed as a summary conviction, you must be charged within six months of the act happening.
If your case does proceed as a summary conviction in Ontario, the following will almost always apply:
You do not have to submit fingerprints when charged
Your case is likely to be heard in a provincial court
You can appeal a conviction in the highest trial court in Ontario (the Ontario Superior Court of Justice)
A further appeal would go to the Ontario Court of Appeal and, in rare cases, to the Supreme Court of Canada
You will be eligible for an automatic pardon after three years provided you are not convicted of any further offences during that period
What are the differences between summary conviction offences & indictable offences?
There are many important differences between summary convictions and indictments. Some of the main ones include:
A six-month limitation period from the time of the alleged offence with summary convictions (indictable offences have no time limit, except treason, which has a three-year limit)
Police do not require an arrest warrant to arrest you for a summary offence
Fingerprints are generally not required to be submitted to police with summary convictions (they are required for indictable offences)
The appeal process is different: summary convictions are appealed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and not the Court of Appeal
Summary conviction offences generally have a maximum prison term of six months and/or a maximum fine of $5,000
Some summary (hybrid) offences have a maximum jail term of eighteen months
With summary offences, a judge usually makes the decision rather than a jury (unless there is a trial for an indictable offence at the same time)
A person convicted of a summary offence can request a pardon after three years (for indictable offences, it’s five years)
How long does a summary conviction stay on your record?
If you do not actively seek a pardon or a record suspension, even a summary conviction may stay on your criminal record for the rest of your life.
If you are found guilty of a summary offence, you will receive a prison sentence or a discharge.
You will be considered to have a criminal conviction if you:
Receive a prison term, fines or forfeitures, a conditional sentence or a suspended sentence with probation (you can apply for a pardon after three years)
You will NOT be considered to have a criminal conviction if you:
Receive an absolute or conditional discharge: for this, you may have to plead guilty of the crime and the records will be sealed after either one or three years, depending on whether your discharge was absolute or conditional
Note that even if you are found not guilty of a summary offence, you will possibly appear on police record checks and this can still raise questions when seeking employment, etc.