Your rights if you are arrested or detained?

According to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, following are your rights

If you are arrested or detained, you must be:

  • Informed about the reasons for your arrest,
  • informed immediately that you have the right to speak to a lawyer or retain one,
  • informed about Legal Aid and your right to free legal advice, and
  • you must be allowed to speak to a lawyer, in private, as soon as possible, if you ask to do so.
  • you must also be told that you do not have to say anything and that anything you say may be (most likely will be) used as evidence against you.

If you are under the age 18

If you are under the age of 18 you should be told that you have the right to contact your parents or guardian and to have them present with you, if you want them there, when and if you decide to speak with the police. You should be allowed to contact your parents or guardian. You do not have to choose between calling your parents or guardian and calling your lawyer. You can do both and it is always advisable to make use of both of these options.

If you have requested to speak to a lawyer

If you ask to speak to a lawyer, the police should stop questioning you immediately. And if you have been arrested, the police should give you a toll-free number to get free legal advice from duty counsel. This is a lawyer provided by Legal Aid Ontario. Once you have spoken to a lawyer, the police may continue to ask you questions. Even if you say that you do not want to answer, they can continue to ask. However, you have the right to remain silent and do not have to answer. It is advisable to repeat again and again if necessary. I have been advised by counsel to exercise my right to remain silent until the questioning ends.

Before arrest

Often people have this false misconception that talking to the police will get them out of trouble. Even if that maybe the case and you have a valid reason for whatever the police are alleging you did, it is advisable to remain silent and not answer any questions until you see a licensed criminal defence lawyer and you know the full extent of the allegations and crown’s case against you. If the police call you and request you to visit the police station so they can speak with you, before you agree to this, consult a lawyer. Quite often the police will call you in, inform you that you are not under arrest and you do not have to answer their questions but once you start talking and they get enough probable cause they go ahead and charge you, those statements you made to them thinking that this is just a normal chat would show up in the Crown’s disclosure as evidence.


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