Crimes which can only be heard and decided by a magistrate in the magistrates court are called summary offences. In general, these offences are less serious than indictable offences and the penalties that can be imposed are not as great. Summary offences make up the majority of the so called common offences, see common offences. A summary offence is defined by the Criminal Procedure Act 1921 (SA) s5 as:
Examples of summary offences are disorderly behaviour, driving under the influence of alcohol or a drug and minor criminal damage to property. People charged with summary offences cannot be tried by juries even if they would prefer it.
There is a time limit of two years to lay a complaint for a summary offence or six months if an expiation notice may be given for the offence [Criminal Procedure Act 1921 (SA) s 52].