Understanding your legal rights helps you to know what to expect if you’re arrested or detained, and can help ensure the best possible outcome in your case. Here are five of the most important tips to remember if you’re questioned by police or arrested.
- If you’re being detained by police or arrested (for example, if you registered a fail on a roadside breath test and the police make a breath demand to receive Intoxilyzer breath samples at the police station), you have the right to speak with your chosen counsel. This is a fundamental right protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And, if you choose to do so, police are obligated to help you get in touch with your own lawyer, which may require a few phone calls and waiting a reasonable amount of time for your lawyer to return your call. Don’t feel pressured to talk to the government paid on call duty counsel if you don’t immediately get a hold of your lawyer. However, ultimately your only choice may be to speak to duty counsel if your lawyer has not returned a phone call from the police within a reasonable period of time. Also, even though it’s not a legal right, police will sometimes allow arrested persons to call their spouse or another personal contact. In fact, if you clearly indicate to the police that you want to phone your spouse, relative or a friend to receive the name and/or contact information of a private lawyer, there is case law which indicates the police have a duty to facilitate such a call.
- Even when you haven’t been placed under arrest and police say they just want to talk with you in connection with a crime, first consult with an experienced criminal lawyer to find out what information you are legally required to reveal to the police. It’s very true that anything you say can be held against you in a criminal proceeding and this can include innocent remarks you may make while attempting to be forthright with police.
- Once you’re detained or arrested, police are obligated to tell you what you’re being charged with. Being arrested is a traumatic experience, all the more so if you have little or no idea of the grounds for the arrest and therefore don’t know what information, if any, you should be sharing with police.
- Under Canada’s Criminal Code, it’s an offence to obstruct a police officer in the execution of his/her duty or any other person who is lawfully helping the officer. This means that a person can be charged with obstruction of police if they intentionally prevent a police officer from lawfully investigating with regards to an offence or complaint. In some circumstances, a simple act such as giving the police false identification may be considered obstruction of police. This is why you should never give false information to police and it’s another reason why it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer to ensure that you protect yourself from self-incrimination as well as obstruction of a lawful police action.
- In Canada, we have a reasonable expectation of privacy, including our personal privacy, residence and personal information, and the Charter protects us from an unreasonable search or seizure. This means that police officers don’t have the right to search you or your possessions unless they have a search warrant or have reasonable and probable grounds that you have committed an offence. This means that you don’t have to allow them to search your pockets, purse or backpack, without lawful grounds. However, remember that it serves no purpose to be discourteous to police, so you may want to comply with such requests assuming there is no reason why you wouldn’t want them looking through your bag or another personal item.
Many criminal cases are withdrawn or dismissed at trial because the arresting officer violated the accused person’s rights. If you were detained or arrested, call Kruse Law Firm so that we can ensure that all your rights are upheld and our experienced team can apply our considerable resources to having your charges dropped.