How Criminal Lawyers Protect Your Rights | Schnell Hardy Jones LLP Pt. 1

Criminal Lawyers at Schnell Hardy Jones LLP in Red Deer, Stettler, Sylvan Lake and Eckville are there to help

Know Your Rights after an Arrest – Speak to a Criminal Lawyer

Being arrested is not a pleasant experience, regardless of what it is you are being arrested for. However, there are several ways you can help yourself and other behaviours to avoid doing to ensure you do not further complicate your situation legally.

What to Do

The first thing you will want to do is ask to speak privately to a criminal lawyer in Red Deer. Do not think that getting legal advice implies you are guilty. The police recognize you have a right to legal counsel and they actually have an obligation to help you to obtain legal advice. The police are given some leeway to continue questioning you, however, even if you have requested to speak to a lawyer. So, be firm about your request to speak to a lawyer and do not answer any questions.

Understand that you have several rights protecting you from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Several sections of the Charter are applicable at the time of arrest, whether you are a Canadian citizen or resident including:

• The right to remain silent. While not explicitly guaranteed in the Charter, the courts have found a constitutional right to silence exists in section 7 of the Charter as a principle of fundamental justice.

• Section 8 of the Charter protects against unlawful search and seizure. While the police have the power to search a suspect after a lawful arrest, this power is not unlimited. For example, a pat-down of an arrested individual is permissible, but other forms of searches such as strip-searches are not. In R v. Murphy, a 2015 Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench decision, a judge found that the police strip searching of an individual following his arrest for drug charges to be unconstitutional.

• Section 10(a) of the Charter mandates that on arrest, you have the right to be informed of the reasons for arrest promptly.

• Section 10(b) of the Charter guarantees you the right to counsel upon arrest. This right has two elements, which are informational and implementational. The informational element requires police to tell you about the right to counsel and provide information such as the availability of legal aid and basic information such as phone numbers. The implementational aspect of section 10(b) requires the police to assist you in contacting a lawyer without delay.

Exercise your right to remain silent, and again, be persistent in this request. Recognize that the police may continue to ask you questions even after you have informed them you do not wish to make a statement. Often, the police will keep asking you questions to try to get information from you. The purpose of their questioning is to conduct their investigation.  The police can continue to pressure you to make a statement and it is up to you to refuse to make a statement and maintain your right to remain silent.  Remember that any conversation with a police officer is a statement that can be used in court even if it isn’t in writing or audio recorded.

While you may feel you can explain away the situation you are in and have the police not press charges against you, this is highly unlikely. Police officers are trained in questioning and interrogation techniques designed to elicit answers out of you that are incriminating and can be used in proving your guilt in court. Be careful not to speak to police, but also avoid speaking with others in the police station, including any cell mates.  The police may place undercover officers posed as cell mates to get a confession.

You will also want to listen for how it is that you came to be arrested. If a warrant for your arrest was issued, any police officer can lawfully arrest you by giving you notice of the warrant and the reasons for the arrest. Without a warrant, the police have the power to arrest you only when a police officer finds you committing an offence or if he or she has reasonable grounds to believe you have or are about to commit an indictable offence.

For a Criminal Lawyer in Red Deer or Central Alberta, Contact Schnell Hardy Jones LLP

Whether you are under an active police investigation or have already been arrested, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer in Red Deer from Schnell Hardy Jones LLP.

Both Willard D. Willms and Daniel J. Wilson represent clients on serious criminal matters at the Alberta.   If you have been arrested in Alberta call us for help at 1-888-342-7405.