Under Canada’s Charter of Rights, if you have been arrested, you have a fundamental right to a lawyer. Anytime you are detained by police or arrested, you have the right to speak with a lawyer right away.
Once you have requested a lawyer, you are not obligated to talk to the police before your lawyer arrives. In fact, once you have asked to see a lawyer, the police are not allowed to ask you any more questions until you have spoken with a lawyer. As a practical matter, you should never talk to the police before you speak with a lawyer. You have the right to refuse to speak with the police until you have spoken with a lawyer. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to a lawyer in section 10(b). If you don’t ask for a lawyer, it is possible that you could waive your right to talk to a lawyer before you speak to the police.
When You Are Arrested, the Police Have Obligations
The police have detained or arrested you when you are no longer free to leave. Once you are no longer free to leave, the police have to tell you why you were detained or arrested. This is the point at which you should ask to speak with a lawyer. You should say nothing more to the police until you are able to speak with your lawyer. Furthermore, once you are arrested, the police must:
- Inform you of your right to speak to a lawyer
- Give you the ability to speak to a lawyer, such as access to a telephone
- Inform you of your right to a no-cost lawyer through legal aid and other publicly funded options for speaking with a lawyer
- Allow you to talk to your lawyer in private, and
- Halt any questioning you have had a chance to speak with your lawyer.
What Should You Do if You Are Arrested?
The first thing you should do, always, at any time you are stopped by the police, is to ask for a lawyer. At that point, the police cannot ask you any more questions. Even if they do, you do not have to answer. The police must inform you of your right to a lawyer. After that, they are allowed to search you for weapons and illegal items and complete any booking procedures involved in arresting you. At that point, they must give you the opportunity to speak with a lawyer in private.
If You Are Arrested in the Calgary area, Contact the Lawyers of Bourdon Defence
Your right to talk to a lawyer arises the instant you are arrested. Upon being arrested, if you are not given the opportunity to speak with a lawyer, you should, at the first opportunity, contact the lawyers of Bourdon Defence. We can assist you in protecting your rights under such circumstances. You can reach us at (403) 474-4143 or through our website.