Being arrested, detained or charged with a crime can leave you feeling scared and vulnerable. It’s important to remember that in a situation like this, you still have rights. Under Section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, everyone has the right on arrest or detention:
- To be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;
- To retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
- To have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if
the detention is not lawful.
- It is always in your best interest to exercise your right to retain counsel. You may feel compelled to answer the police’s questions in order to appear cooperative, but it is not in your best interest to do so.
- The police must stop questioning you when you assert your right to speak with a lawyer. If they continue to question you, you do not have to answer until you have been able to consult privately with your lawyer.
- You have the right to “remain silent” or, “…Any person charged with an offence has the right to not to be compelled to be a witness in proceedings against that person in respect of the offence”.
- It is a common myth that asking for a lawyer will make you look guilty. It doesn’t. It makes you look like you are informed, and you take the rights as they are afforded to you by The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms seriously. Section 11, d of the Charter protects your right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.
What will an experienced criminal lawyer do?
- While in some cases this might be your first time dealing with an arrest, detention or a criminal charge, and even if it isn’t— a criminal lawyer has navigated this process many times before and will be much more experienced at dealing with the process.
- They will instruct you on whether or not answering questions from the authorities will be helpful or harmful to you and your case, depending on your individual circumstances. In most situations, they will advise you that it is better to wait until all the facts are disclosed to you before speaking to the police.
- They will explain to you what options you have and their possible outcomes allowing you to make informed decisions.
- They will provide you with much needed information, support, and reassurance during what can be a very overwhelming and anxiety-provoking process.
- Being charged with a crime doesn’t make you guilty of one. An experienced criminal defence lawyer will represent you to the best possible outcome.