An offence that can be tried summarily, i.e. before magistrates. Most minor offences (e.g. common assault and battery) are triable only summarily; some more serious offences are offences triable either way (i.e. they can be tried either summarily or on indictment in the Crown Court). Prosecutions for summary offences must be started within six months of the commission of the offence, unless statute expressly provides to the contrary. Compare indictable offence.