Your Legal Rights

Basic Declaration

“Officer, please understand I refuse to talk to you other than to identify myself until I consult with my lawyer. I also refuse to consent to any search of these premises or any premises under my control or which I have in my possession, proprietary or privacy interest including my car, body, or effects. I further refuse to consent to the taking of my breath, bodily fluids, or tissue for scientific analysis without an opportunity to consent with my lawyer. As a Canadian, I desire to exercise all my rights guarantees to me by THE CONSTITUTION OF CANADA TO BE FREE FROM INTERFERENCE WITH MY PERSONAL AFFAIRS. If you attempt to question me I want my lawyer present. I further refuse to participate in any lineup or perform any physical acts, speak or display my person and property at your discretion without first consulting with my lawyer. If I am under arrest I wish to know under what charge and wish to invoke and exercise my constitutional rights. If you ignore my rights and attempt to produce a waiver I want to consult with my lawyer prior to any conversation with you. If I am not under arrest, I wish to leave. If I am free to leave please tell me so that I may return to my business.”

The right to remain silent
Talking to the police can lead to some serious consequences. Anything you say to the authorities can and will be used against you as evidence in court. It’s for this reason that you should express your desire to speak with a lawyer upon arrest. This legally obligates the police to refrain from asking you questions until they provide with with an opportunity to speak with any lawyer you choose. If you do not have a lawyer, then the police will have an obligation to provide you with a free “Legal Aid” lawyer for advice.

Individuals that are detained under suspicion for involvement in a crime are also under no obligation to answer any questions posed to them by the police.

The right to retain and instruct counsel without delay upon detention or arrest
As mentioned above, talking to the police means that anything you say can be used as evidence against you in court. As a Canadian, you have the right to retain any lawyer of your choosing immediately after being arrested or detained. In the meantime, exercising your right to remain silent will ensure that you will not have to answer any questions asked by the Police without your lawyer present.

The right to counsel is one of the most important rights in Canadian criminal law because it guarantees that all individuals have the opportunity to have legal matters explained to them by an experienced criminal defence lawyer to ensure that they understand what their rights are in the circumstance and how best to defend the charges.

The right to be promptly informed of the reason for detention or arrest
Section Section 10(a) of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms requires that a person who is arrested or detained must be told why. This is to ensure that those arrested or detained are aware of the gravity of the situation.

If there are reasonable grounds to suspect a person is connected to a certain crime, the police may detain them for further investigation. Upon detention, the police must inform the detainee of the reasons they are being detained. An “investigative detention” must be brief as it is not an arrest.

Right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure
Search and seizure is a legal procedure whereby police or other authorities and their agents, who suspect that a crime has been committed, do a search of a person’s property and confiscate any relevant evidence to the crime. Canadians are not to be subject to a search/seizure unless it is done in accordance with Canadian law. This means that we should be free from having the police search our houses, vehicles or our personal property without a good reason for doing so. The police need more than mere speculation or a hunch to search – they need lawful authority to do so.

Unreasonable searches can also include a search that was conducted in an excessive or abusive manner. If a search is “unreasonable”, a defendant can apply to the trial judge for a remedy. The typical remedy is to exclude at trial the evidence that stems from the violation of this right. A judge may also dismiss the charges on account of the unreasonable police conduct.

The right to a trial in a reasonable amount of time
When you’re accused of a crime, you have the right to a trail in a reasonable amount of time. Every criminal case has a potential expiry date. Depending on the type of charge, how complex the case is and how fast it passes through the court system, a person may argue to the trial judge that the case took too long to prosecute and should be dismissed as a result.

It’s important to remember that reasonableness depends on many factors; the amount of investigative work that is involved in the case, the number of interested parties and their locations, and/or the complexity of the case. Reasonableness also relates to local court resources and/or how they compare to other jurisdictions. Other elements in determining reasonableness of delay could include delays by either the Crown attorney or defense counsel, or even the Court itself.

The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty
The presumption of innocence is a legal right to any accused person in a criminal trial. The burden of proof is put on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the court that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If reasonable doubt remains, the accused is to be acquitted.

The best way to approach the situation, understand your rights and formulate a winning defence is to speak to a lawyer who has knowledge and experience in the areas that most affect you.

Contact Frank Retar at (519) 256-1234 for a consultation.