Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees political rights to Canadian citizens and civil rights for everyone in Canada. It applies to the actions and policies of all arms of government, including the police and other investigators.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affects all areas of criminal law including the investigation of a crime, the fairness of a trial, the use of evidence at trial and appropriate sentencing. 

Our experienced lawyers will thoroughly explore whether there has been a violation of your rights under the Charter. Should our lawyers determine that a violation has occurred, we may be able to have the charges against you withdrawn or have the evidence that was obtained in violation of those rights excluded at trial. 

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms sets out many rights, including:

 

THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT

  • Until you have had an opportunity to speak to a lawyer, you are under no legal obligation to provide any information other than your name, date of birth and address to police.

 

  • Anything you say to the police can be used against you at your trial. 

 

  • Regardless of what police say to you, exercise your right to silence until you speak to a lawyer.

 

THE RIGHT TO OBTAIN AND INSTRUCT COUNSEL WITHOUT DELAY

  • Under section 10(b) of the Charter, you have the right to speak to a lawyer without delay if the police detain you.

 

  • If you do not have a lawyer, the police must advise you of your right to speak to a free lawyer who is available to speak to you 24 hours a day.

 

  • Remember to exercise your right to remain silent until you have spoken to a lawyer.

 

THE RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCHES OR SEIZURES

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees your right to be free from unreasonable searches or seizures. This means that the police will normally need to get a warrant in order to search something in which you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. If the police obtain evidence against you by violating your right to privacy, that evidence may be excluded at trial.

 

THE RIGHT NOT TO BE ARBITRARILY DETAINED OR IMPRISONED

  • Under section 9 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, you have a right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned. The Supreme Court of Canada has held that the police cannot detain you for an investigation unless they have reasonable grounds to suspect that you are connected to a crime and that it is necessary to detain you for their investigation.

 

  • You can be “detained” by the police even if you are not under arrest. The police are “detaining” you when you have a legal obligation to comply with their demands, or when you feel like you have no choice but to comply with their demands.

 

THE RIGHT TO BE TRIED WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME

Section 11(b) of the Charter of Rights guarantees your right to a trial within a reasonable time. Being charged is a stressful experience, and this right recognizes that you and the public are entitled to a fair and efficient justice system that resolves cases swiftly. If a court finds that your right to a trial within a reasonable time has been violated, the court may stay (i.e. stop) the charges against you. 

 

THE RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL

Under section 7 and 11(d) of the Charter, you have a right to a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal. This right includes the right to know the case that the state has against you and the right to be able to meet that case. This means that the Crown Attorney must disclose any relevant information in their possession that may be useful in your defence. This includes witness statements, police notes and video surveillance. You or your lawyer will receive your disclosure during your first court appearances. 

 

THE RIGHT TO REASONABLE BAIL

Section 11(e) of the Charter of Rights provides that you have a right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause.

 

THE RIGHT TO BE PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY

You have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

THE RIGHT NOT TO BE A WITNESS AGAINST YOURSELF

If you are compelled to testify as a witness in a proceeding, section 13 of the Charter of Rights guarantees your right not to have your testimony used against you in another proceeding. The purpose of this right is to protect you from being compelled to incriminate yourself.

 

THE RIGHT TO AN INTERPRETER AT YOUR TRIAL

Under section 14 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, you have a right to an interpreter at your court appearances and trial. This means that you have the right to have the same opportunity as someone fluent in English or French to understand and be understood in the proceedings.

 

THE RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM ANY CRUEL AND UNUSUAL TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT

Section 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that you have the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. 

 

LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS

 


The full text of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms can be found here