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What are your rights when charged or arrested?

Being arrested is never a pleasant thing, but if you are arrested and charged with an offence, you have rights.

When can police stop me?

Police can stop you in three circumstances:

  • If they suspect that you have committed a crime;
  • If they see you committing a crime;
  • If you are driving.

If under these circumstances you refuse to cooperate with police you could be further charged.

What are my rights if I am arrested?

If you have been placed under arrest, the police have the right to search your person, your clothes and anything else you are carrying. They are allowed to so as long as the y believe the search is necessary for the safety of the public, the police, and to protect evidence from destruction.

These are your rights if you have been arrested by the police:

  • You have the right to be promptly informed for the reason of your arrest;
  • You have the right to remain silent;
  • You have the right to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible;
  • If you cannot afford a lawyer you have the right to ask for and be told whether and when duty counsel is available, as well as legal aid.

These rights are set out as per the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

You should also know that if you want to contact a lawyer the police have to provide you with a phone. If you can’t reach a lawyer in one phone call, they have to allow you more than one call in order to reach a lawyer. You also have the right not to answer police questions and to speak to your lawyer in private.

What are my rights if I am charged with a crime?

People are not always arrested when charged with a crime, if it was a minor offence, for example.

If the crime is minor, then the police will consider the following factors when deciding whether to arrest you:

  • Whether you are likely to repeat the offence;
  • Whether you are likely to destroy evidence;
  • If you will go to court as required.

If you have been charged with an offence but not arrested you will still receive a written notice describing the offence, the date of the offence and the law you have allegedly broken. The notice will also give the date and time that you have to go to court to answer the charge.

If you have been charged with something, but you haven’t been arrested and you don’t know what you have been charged with you should contact a lawyer to help you.

If you are unsure of whether you have been arrested, ask the police officer politely whether you are under arrest.

However, if you have been arrested and charged with a crime then you have the right to know what you were charged with right away.

If you have been arrested and charged you need to contact a lawyer as soon as possible or ask for duty counsel and/or legal aid as fast as possible.

Read more:

Your Rights when Arrested or Charged

What are my rights if I’m arrested or detained?