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What are your rights when arrested or detained by the police?

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees certain rights to anyone arrested, or detained, by police in Canada.  These are particularly important to know when arrested for a drinking and driving offence. These rights include:

  • To be told why you are being detained or arrested
  • The right to be remain silent when questioned by police
  • To be told that you have the right to speak to a lawyer of your choice
  • To be provided with the phone number for Legal Aid Ontario and told of your right to free legal advice
  • To be provided with a chance to speak to a lawyer as soon as practicable if you ask to exercise that right

Once you ask to speak to a lawyer, the police should stop questioning you until you have had an opportunity to speak to a lawyer. Once you have spoken to a lawyer, however, the police may continue to ask you questions. You do not have a right to have a lawyer present when you are asked questions, nor do police have to stop asking you questions simply because you tell them you have nothing to say. You at all times have the right to remain silent, and you do not have to answer questions posed by police.

Youths who are arrested have additional rights, in that youths have the right to call their parent or guardian, as well as a lawyer, and are entitled to have their parents present when questioned by police.

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