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What to do when one is stopped by the Police *


When stopped by the police, an individual is under no obligation to provide any information and can simply choose to walk away.  Section 9 of Canada’s statutory declaration of fundamental rights known as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms enshrines the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned, and protects the individual from unjustified state interference.  The courts have recognized that this liberty includes not only the freedom from physical restraint but from psychological restraint as well.


Where the choice to speak or walk away from police is removed, either through physical or psychological restraint, an individual is considered detained.  Once detained, the right to silence and the right to speak to a lawyer are triggered.  Police may insist on asking a detainee questions, however there is no obligation to answer the police.


It is important to understand the fundamental right against self-incrimination, since anything you say to police may later be used as evidence in your prosecution.  To fully understand your rights and obligations, it is also crucial to exercise your right to counsel immediately upon detention or arrest by making it clear to police that (i) you have nothing to say, and (ii) you want to speak to a lawyer immediately.

*Disclaimer:  The information provided in this article is NOT legal advice but fundamental information to be further inquired upon professionally.  You should always consult with a qualified lawyer to obtain proper advice.


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