Your Rights Back

The Right to Remain Silent

If the police seek to question you regarding your alleged involvement in a criminal offence, you have the legal right to remain silent. Your right not to speak to the police when questioned is part of your fundamental right to be free from self-incrimination, that is, to not provide the police with evidence which may be used against you. The police are required to advise you of your right to remain silent. The reason for the right to silence is to give you the opportunity to speak to a lawyer and then make a free and meaningful choice about whether to speak or whether to continue to remain silent. In other words this right is not absolute and may be waived by the detained person. If you are knowledgeable about your right to not speak to the police you will normally not waive this right. It is important when detained to have an experienced criminal lawyer available to advise you.

The Right to Retain and Instruct Counsel without Delay

Section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that everyone upon arrest and detention has the right to be promptly informed of the reasons for their detention and to retain and instruct a criminal lawyer without delay, and to be informed of that right. The right to retain and instruct counsel without delay is understood as the right to have a meaningful opportunity to contact the lawyer of your choice. This means that you're entitled to contact your own criminal lawyer and you are to be given the opportunity to take all reasonable steps to contact the lawyer of your choice. If you are unable to afford a lawyer or you are unable or don't wish to contact a private lawyer of your choice, you are entitled to speak to a free duty counsel lawyer who is available on a 24-hour basis. Remember you have the right to speak to a lawyer when detained on a police investigation and you should always take the opportunity to speak with a lawyer first before speaking with the police, providing a breath sample at the police station or complying with any other request the police may have in attempting to further their investigation or collect evidence. You are required by law to provide breath samples into a screening device without the benefit of speaking to a lawyer, as long as the police have complied with their pre-requirements.

Right To Be Free From Unreasonable Search and Seizure

In order to be reasonable under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms a search must be authorized by law, and the law itself must be reasonable. The search must also be conducted in a reasonable manner. If the search is made in violation of this right, often the evidence obtained cannot be used against you.