If you are ever placed under arrest or detained by investigating police, here are five points to consider:
- Remain Silent – Do NOT say anything to the police; you may have an urge to “talk your way out” of the situation. You ought to resist this urge.
The police want you to talk. They could possibly twist whatever you say and use it against you later. You may end up digging yourself a bigger hole.
Just be quiet and resist the urge to make any statement until you have discussed this with your lawyer.
- Be cooperative – Being cooperative does NOT mean answering the officer’s questions or making a statement.
For example, a refusal to offer a breath sample is a crime in and of itself. Cooperating to a certain point will give your defence a greater marge de manoeuvre than entirely refusing to cooperate. If the officers are asking you to blow into a screening device, do it.
NEVER lie to the police. Lying to a police officer could bring about a charge of obstruction of justice. Being cooperative does NOT mean answering the officer’s questions or making a statement;
- Understand why you are being arrested—The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects you against arbitrary detention. If an agent of the State uses authority to detain you, the officer MUST inform you of the reason for your detention (your 10(a) right).
As opposed to simply reading someone her rights off a que card, courts have interpreted this right broadly enough to obligate the arresting officer to take steps to ensure you understand the reasons for your arrest.
You need to fully understand the reason for the arrest in order to exercise your right to retain and instruct a lawyer (your 10(b) right). If you are unsure of the reason for your arrest, your conversation with a lawyer will be less productive.
4. Contact a lawyer without delay—The police must inform you of your right to speak with a lawyer and facilitate your efforts to contact one. You are typically allowed to enter a private room with a phone-book, list of lawyers, and a telephone. If you are a youth, the police MUST notify your parents;
5. Bail – You have a right to be granted reasonable bail. Release is the rule and denial of bail is the exception. If you are granted an interim release (bail), you may have to abide by conditions.
For instance, if you are accused of assault, one of the conditions may be that you cannot have any contact (direct or indirect) with the complainant in order to protect against intimidating a person that will give evidence against you in court. You must respect all the conditions and appear in court when required upon release.
If you fail to respect conditions of your release, you may face further criminal charges arising from the beaches. Breaching conditions also brings about further difficulty with obtaining bail in the future.