Section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that if you are arrested or detained you are to be:
- Advised of the reason for your arrest or detention;
- Advised of your right to contact counsel forthwith; and
- Given a reasonable opportunity to exercise that right.
Many people assume that anytime a police officer or person in authority asks you questions you are entitled to consult with a lawyer. You only have a right to legal counsel if you are arrested or detained. Being detained can include a psychological detention. So in other words, if you are placed in a room and questions are being asked of you and you have a feeling you cannot leave that would constitute a detention. In those circumstances you would be entitled to speak with a lawyer before answering any questions.
The police are obligated to hold off questioning you until you have had a reasonable opportunity to try and locate counsel. At 2:00 in the morning that can be a problem. The McDougall Gauley Defence Group has a 24-hour on-call number that you can call if you are arrested and need counsel. Our contact numbers are:
Next week I will comment on whether you should provide a statement when asked to do so.
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