What Are My Rights If I Am Arrested or Detained?

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the Canadian Construction, sets out your rights.

If you are arrested or detained, you must be:

  • Told why you have been arrested or detained;

  • Told immediately that you have the right to a lawyer;

  • Told about Legal Aid and your right to free legal advice; and

  • Allowed to speak to a lawyer, in private, as soon as possible, if you ask to do so.

If you ask to speak to a lawyer, the police should stop questioning you, and if you have been arrested, the police should give you the 24-hour toll-free number for duty counsel.

What if the police question me?

If the police think you might have committed a crime, you should tell them who you are, but you do not have to answer any questions. You can tell the police that you do not want to say anything until you speak to a lawyer. 

Anything you say to the police might be used in evidence against you in court. Even something you said before you were arrested or while you were in the police car could be used against you. This is the case even if you do not sign a statement. But, as soon as you ask for a lawyer, the police should stop questioning you. Just say, ‘I want to speak to a lawyer.’ You do not have to say anything else. IF the police continue to question you, do not say anything. Just ask again to speak to a lawyer.

In Ontario, Legal Aid pays lawyers known as “duty counsel” to provide free legal advice 24 hours a day. Ask the police for the toll-free telephone number, or contact a lawyer you know.

In most cases, a lawyer will advise you not to talk to the police. This is usually the best advice. If you do choose to talk to the police, keep in mind that giving false information can be a criminal offence, and if you lie to the police, the fact that you lied can be used as evidence against you. 

If you try to get other people not to co-operate with the police, you could get charged with obstructing justice or obstructing the police.

How to Prepare

Before a trial, it is important to be aware of your rights and prepare well. Do not fret or get nervous. Remember, the police will refer to their notes to refresh the nitty-gritty of the incident, and you are also entitled to the notes. You are also allowed to prepare your own statement of the incident. You should recall properly and jot down all the facts, activities, times and figures pertinent to the incident/crime in detail. Note that your statement will not serve as evidence or a legal document. It can be of help to the lawyer as the case hearings are usually after 9-12 months after the charge has been laid. Postponing self-documentation can make you miss out on key factors that can prove case differentiators. If you were in the company of friends or family, their statement could also help in remembering the incident well. A clear recollection helps your lawyer draft a robust defence.

If you have any details, documents or proof to aid the documentation, keep them safe. These can help you in the long run.

Getting compensation for the victim

If you are a victim of crime, you can avail yourself of recourses outside of the criminal justice system. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CIBC) is a recognized body that offers monetary compensation to victims of crime and their families in the event of death. The amount of compensation depends on the costs of physical injuries, wages suffered and psychological trauma. In case of the death of the victim of the crime, the family members are eligible to get compensation for mental or nervous shock, funeral expenses, caring for the deceased’s children and bereavement counselling.

The CICB compensation claim process requires the filing of an application form, submission of documents or evidence to prove the claim and appearing for a hearing before the CICB members. As the process is a little technical, having the assistance of an expert lawyer can make it easier. Goldglass Law has a highly experienced lawyer who can file applications, substantiate the paperwork with legal evidence and get the highest compensation using their skilled advocacy.

Victim Assistance

If you need victim assistance, click below to know more about Ontario Victim Services, their programs, services and other initiatives. Also, discover more about the victim services directory as well as publication and reports on their official website.

Ministry of the attorney general Ontario Find Information Here

Talk to an information and referral counsellor or get more information by calling the 24/7 Victim Support Line at 1-888-579-2888, or 416-314-2447 in the Greater Toronto Area, or chat online Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Eastern Time. If this is an emergency, call 9-1-1.


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