If you are charged with a criminal offence or under investigation the action you take early on can either significantly damage or improve your defence. Chand & Co. has put together tips to ensure you avoid making common mistakes. The following is not legal advice and it is being provided for information purposes only, as always it is best interest to contact a lawyer immediately if you have been charged with a criminal offence or under investigation.
DON’T TALK TO POLICE
If you have been arrested or are being investigated, you do not have an obligation to provide any information. You are only required to identify yourself upon request. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has made it a constitutional right not to discuss your matter with police and principle of less is more can be applied in these situations. Although you may feel you have nothing to hide, what you say may be used against you. Once you have identified yourself to the police, your next statement should be “I want to speak with a Lawyer.”
GET A LAWYER
If you are arrested the police must provide you with the reasons for your arrest and give you the opportunity to speak with a lawyer. Your lawyer can help explain the procedure to you and give you further details and advice. Hiring the right lawyer can make a world of difference. Not only do you need a lawyer who understands the law, you need a lawyer who will vigorously defend your rights at all stages of a criminal proceeding.
IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH A CRIME
If you haven’t already requested or contacted a lawyer while being investigated, it is of vital importance that you have legal representation as soon as you have been charged with a crime. Your lawyer will help you understand your rights and will advise you on the next steps. Depending on the severity of your charges you may need a bail hearing; otherwise you will have to remain in custody. Criminal proceedings are complex and require a deep understanding of the law and a trained professional to navigate you through your case. With the advice and guidance of a lawyer, you can ensure that your best interests will be looked after.
KNOW YOUR CHARTER RIGHTS
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects basic rights and freedoms that all Canadians are entitled to. These rights and freedoms cannot be taken away or interfered with unreasonably. Some Charter rights have a direct impact on criminal matters. Although there are other Charter rights that may apply, we’ve highlighted some of the most commonly used sections in a criminal context below:
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.
Everyone has the right on arrest or detention to the following:
to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;
to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.
This section of the Charter contains many provisions to protect someone’s rights who have been charged with an offence. It is one of the most commonly used section for criminal matters. This section protects individuals from the time of being charged all the way until the matter is resolved.
Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
WHAT NOT TO DO
DO NOT justify your actions or try to talk your way out of a problem with the police. You don’t know the information they may or may not have. The principle of less is more should be applied and you should always say less and ask to speak with a lawyer.
DO NOT talk about your case in detail with friends or family. Your lawyer is the only person with a legal duty to act in your best interest.
DO NOT give any statements, written or recorded, without first contacting your lawyer for advice.
DO NOT sit back and take a passive approach. If you have been charged with a crime, act quickly, seek representation and ensure your rights are being protected.
Being convicted of a crime can come with stiff fines and penalties, or even a lengthy period of incarceration or custody. The negative consequences of a criminal record can haunt you for the rest of your life.
The information provided in this article is merely information for the reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you or a loved one have been charged or are currently being investigated for a crime, ensure your rights are protected and call Chand & Co..