goldglass, Sickinger

York Region Criminal Lawyers

barristers Practicing in Association

THE COURT PROCESS

What are my rights if I am arrested or detained?

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the Canadian Constitution, sets out your rights.

If you are arrested or detained, you must be:

  • Told why you have been arrested or detained;
  • Told immediately that you have the right to a lawyer;
  • Told about Legal Aid and your right to free legal advice; and
  • Allowed to speak to a lawyer, in private, as soon as possible, if you ask to do so.

If you ask to speak to a lawyer, the police should stop questioning you, and, if you have been arrested, the police should give you the 24-hour toll-free number for duty counsel.


What if the police question me?

If the police think you might have committed a crime you should tell them who you are, but you do not have to answer any questions. You can tell the police that you do not want to say anything until you speak to a lawyer.

Anything you say to the police might be used in evidence against you in court. Even something you said before you were arrested, or while you were in the police car, could be used against you. This is the case even if you do not sign a statement. But as soon as you ask for a lawyer, the police should stop questioning you. Just say, "I want to speak to a lawyer." You do not have to say anything else. If the police continue to question you, do not say anything. Just ask again to speak to a lawyer.

In Ontario, Legal Aid pays lawyers known as "duty counsel" to provide free legal advice, 24 hours a day. Ask the police for the toll-free telephone number, or contact a lawyer you know.

In most cases, a lawyer will advise you not to talk to the police. This is usually the best advice. If you do choose to talk to the police, keep in mind that giving false information can be a criminal offence, and if you lie to the police, the fact that you lied can be used as evidence against you.

If you try to get other people not to co-operate with the police, you could get charged with obstructing justice or obstructing the police.

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