Anyone who is detained or arrested in Canada is protected by the charter of rights and freedoms. This is part of the Canadian constitution and states that the following are the rights of someone who is arrested or detained.
The arresting officer or detaining officer must do the following:
- Inform you why you had been detained or arrested and why you are under investigation
- Inform you immediately that you have the right to a lawyer
- Tell you about your right to free legal advice or legal aid and
- Tell you that you are allowed to speak to a lawyer of your choice in private as soon as possible if you request to do so
The last one is very important because the police are not obliged to give you an opportunity to talk to a lawyer unless you inform them that you want to do so. Also note that once you have spoken to a lawyer, the police can assume that you received your needed legal advice. In case you don’t understand what the lawyer told you or in the event that you’re not satisfied with the legal advice that you’ve received, then you must inform the police immediately.
Important Information to Tell the Police
- If you want to speak to a lawyer again
- If you want to speak to another lawyer
- Or if you are under 18
In case you are under 18 years old, the police will have to treat you in a different way because you’re not yet a legal adult. This will apply to you whether you are detained or arrested or if you were suspected of being involved in a crime.
The Police Should Tell You
Aside from the above, the police should also inform you that:
- You are not obliged to say anything
- Anything that you say may be used against you as evidence
- You have the right to speak to a lawyer
- You have the right to call your guardian or parents, and
- You have the right to have your lawyer and your guardian or parents with you if you want them to be present when the police are questioning you
Regarding the above, if you are under 18, then you have the option to have both your parents and guardians with you during questioning. You do not have to choose between them.
If You Requested to Speak to A Lawyer
The police should stop questioning you in the following circumstances
- If you ask to speak to a lawyer, and
- If you make a reasonable effort to speak or contact a lawyer
If you had been detained or arrested in Canada, the police should give you a toll-free number that is open 24 hours to get free legal advice from duty counsel. This is a lawyer that is provided by legal aid.
Answering Police Questions
Know that the police may continue to ask you questions after you speak to a lawyer. They are free to ask even if you say that you do not want to answer. However, since you have informed them that you don’t want to answer, you have the right to remain silent and not give them a response.
Your age is an important factor in determining the application of certain technicalities when the police are handling you. Only people who are below 18 years old need to have a lawyer while being questioned. If you are over 18, then the police can question you even without a lawyer present. Also, note that the police are not obliged to let you speak to a lawyer again during the same interview if you have already spoken to a lawyer earlier. They may have to let you speak to a lawyer in the event that something had changed for which you might need some legal advice again. For example, if the police are questioning you for one crime and start questioning you for a different crime, then you can ask to speak to a lawyer again for legal advice.