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I’ve Been Criminally Charged – What Are My Rights?

What do you do if you are facing criminal charges?  Very few people expect to be charged with a criminal offence at any point in their lives and most of those who are, as expected, are entirely unprepared for the stressful and intimidating process that lies ahead of them. The two most important details that every individual ought to know is the right to silence and the right to counsel protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Right to Silence

Exercising one’s right to silence may be underestimated. After all, it is human nature to want to explain what happened or did not happen. This is especially so if the person believes he or she is not responsible for the alleged criminal offence. Many feel the need to immediately provide an explanation to the police. Such persons are often operating under the mistaken understanding or assumption that with an adequate explanation, the police will simply let them go. However, that is rarely the case. Even if there is a low chance that a person may be let go based on their co-operation and shared reasons, the chances of that do not outweigh the significant risks at play when one makes voluntary statements to the police. This is because anything you say can and will be used against you. The Crown will rely on your statements as part of the evidence against you to secure a conviction. That is why our goal is to protect you against self-incrimination. To do that, you have to appreciate your right to silence and exercise that right, no matter how difficult you feel that is in the moment.

Understanding the Role of the Police

It is important to keep in mind that police are not judges, rather, are charged with the duty to investigate alleged criminal offences. Their role is to gather evidence but not to make the determinations of the weight or significance of that evidence. It is not for the police to decide who is telling the truth or the credibility of the person providing the statement. The police rely on reasonable and probably grounds to support their belief that a criminal offence has taken place. Thereafter, they are obligated to arrest the accused in question. When you provide a statement to the police if you find yourself subject to a criminal investigation, you are voluntarily offering the police evidence they need to form the reasonable and probable grounds for arrest. Without the statement, they may not have such grounds. You are not legally required to provide any evidence to the police. The most critical thing you should do at this point is exercise your right to speak to a lawyer and that brings us to the second right: the right to speak to a lawyer.

You are protected under Canadian law when you are facing criminal charges. There are many important reasons for this protection, of which are beyond the scope of this blog. All you need to be aware of is that you have constitutionally protected rights. With respect to your right to counsel, upon arrest or ‘detention,’ you have a right to speak to a lawyer of your choice. The police will facilitate the execution of this right. If they fail to do so, they have breached your rights and that presents you with a defence in the court process, that we as criminal lawyers will full forcedly advance on your behalf. The police must take all reasonable steps necessary to get in connected with a lawyer before any further steps are taken in your case.

Speaking to a criminal defence lawyer is critical, especially if you are facing serious charges. You may be looking at a loss of your freedom, facing serious jail time and a criminal record that is sure to follow you around the rest of your life. Our office is available around the clock to take a call from a person under arrest and provide them with a legal option and guidance as to what to do next.

Being criminally charged is not a pleasant experience for anyone. Exercising your rights can make the difference between having your charges dropped or reduced or facing a conviction. We will work with you and meet with you after we receive your disclosure. Disclosure consists of documentation that the Crown will use as evidence to prosecute your case. From there, we begin defending your rights and challenging the Crown’s case. Our goal at all times is to help you avoid a criminal record. We explain the process of your legal case to you ever step of the way as well as the legal process as it unfolds. In other words, from the moment you speak to us following your arrest, to the final disposition of your case, we are by your side and in your corner.

Contact Aitken Robertson to Learn About Your Rights

Being charged with a criminal offence does not need to be a terrifying experience and having sound legal advice from our firm through the process ensures that. If you wish to learn more about your rights and charge(s), call our office and speak to one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers to learn more. We offer free 30-minute consultations and have accommodating days and hours of service. We look forward to speaking with you.

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Yasmine Al-Zaman

Yasmine’s patience, compassion and understanding allow her to work collaboratively and effectively with her clients. She appreciates the level of fear and confusion most people feel when confronted with the legal system. With that in mind, Yasmine puts her best foot forward to offer quality legal services.

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