“You have the right to remain silent.”  These are some of the scariest words a person might hear from a police officer.  This is, of course, because of what the police officer has told you a few moments earlier: you are under arrest.

Everyone has rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  These rights include the right to counsel, the right to be informed of the reason for your arrest, and the right to silence.  Section 7 of the Charter states that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person…” This includes the right to silence.  You can call Hicks Adams any time you are arrested or detained by the police – you can even call if you are in jail – toll free at 1 877 975 1700 or collect at 416 975 1700.  The police have an obligation to help you to contact your lawyer and are even required to wait a reasonable time before asking you questions while you wait for your lawyer to call you back (assuming the police couldn’t reach your lawyer – sometimes this is a problem for people who are arrested in the early morning hours).

While you have the right to remain silent, and the police cannot force you to talk, the police have the right to question you.  You don’t have to answer questions, but the police can ask.  You don’t have an obligation to participate in the interrogation process, but the police can continue to ask you questions. The Supreme Court of Canada, in the case of Jagrup Singh v. Her Majesty the Queen, decided that though Mr. Singh asserted his right to silence 18 times before his eventual statement, his rights were not violated.  While the police could not ‘make him talk’, they could keep asking questions until Mr. Singh answered.  Mr. Singh was convicted of murder.

If you have been arrested, it is important to know and understand your rights. If you need advice to help you maintain your rights when you’ve been arrested, call Hicks Adams at 416-975-1700 or contact us online.

Misha Feldmann, Associate, Hicks Adams