Criminal Law: Know Your Rights
If you have ever been arrested, then you may remember feeling lost or confused about what to do next. If so, you are not alone. Many individuals who have been arrested do not know their basic rights when it comes to criminal law.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is part of the constitution that protects every Canadian citizen and resident’s right to be treated equally and fairly under the law.
Here are your rights regarding detention and arrest:
The right to not be arbitrarily detained or arrested
Once a police officer restricts your liberty, you are being detained; for instance, if you are pulled over while driving. If you are being arrested, a police officer must say the words “you are under arrest.” Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, you are protected from arbitrary detention or arrest, which means the police must have a valid reason for taking you into custody or restricting your movements.
The right to be informed of the reasons for detention or arrest
It is a breach of your constitutional rights for the police to detain or arrest you without disclosing the reason for doing so. They must also disclose this information promptly. If you have any uncertainty as to the reason you are being detained or arrested, politely ask the officers to explain.
The right to retain and instruct counsel
If you are arrested, you have the right to counsel, and the police should advise you of this as soon as possible. You should also be informed of legal aid and your right to utilize this service if you cannot afford an attorney. Additionally, the police should provide you with a phone to contact your lawyer and the space to do so privately. It is always advisable not to answer questions without your lawyer present as they will be able to guide you through the interrogation session so you can avoid self-incrimination.
The right to have the validity of your detention determined by habeas corpus
Habeas corpus refers to a legal procedure that allows an individual to report unlawful detention or imprisonment to a court of law. The court will then examine the circumstances surrounding the individual’s confinement. If the court rules that you were unlawfully detained, you should be released immediately.
What to do if you are arrested?
If you have been arrested, remain calm, invoke your right to representation and contact your lawyer.
Tom Doust is a Vancouver criminal lawyer with over 20 years of experience. He has successfully defended clients in all sorts of criminal matters, including drug offences, violent crimes and white-collar crimes.
Our capable team is ready to ensure that you receive the best legal advice. So, if you are facing criminal charges and you need to know all your options, give us a call today to schedule a free consultation with Mr. Doust to discuss your case.