Legal Rights and Criminal Offences

May 8, 2016

Every person has specific legal rights when charged with a criminal offence. It does not matter if the criminal offence is minor, like “Theft Under $5,000” or more serious, like “Manslaughter”. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of their rights.

If you are ever detained or arrested in relation to a criminal offence, it is crucial, that you exercise your rights. The following is an overview of some important legal rights:

The Right to Remain Silent

Everyone has the right to remain silent and not answer any questions upon arrest or detention. This right commences at the beginning of a criminal investigation and extends until the matter is completed. If a matter proceeds to trial, you cannot be compelled to testify at the trial. The decision to testify rests solely with the accused party.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of a criminal offence.

The Right against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

This right protects an individual from unlawful or unjustified searches by the authorities. The right focuses on privacy and a “reasonable expectation of privacy”, in a given circumstance. With respect to a “seizure”, the right focuses on “taking of a thing from a person by a public authority without that person’s consent.”

For example: There is a greater expectation of privacy with respect to a person’s home than there is with respect to their automobile. As a result, in order to search the former, a search warrant is required.

The Right to Counsel

Upon arrest or detention, everyone has the right to be advised of their right to access Legal Counsel. In addition to this, the authorities must facilitate this right by enabling you to speak to your specific lawyer or if you do not have a specific lawyer, allowing you access to “Duty Counsel”. Duty Counsel is a lawyer that is available at all times via telephone, is free of cost, and can give an arrested or detained individual advice. Finally, the authorities must ensure that they provide you with the ability to speak to your lawyer in private.

The Right to Be Informed of the Charges/Offence

Upon arrest, you must be told precisely what criminal offence you are being charged with. Upon detention, you must be advised of the reasons for your detention.

The Right to Reasonable Bail/Bail Hearing

If you are charged with a criminal offence and held for bail, you must be brought to court within 24 hours, and have a “bail hearing” within a “reasonable amount of time”

Generally, a person charged with a criminal offence should be released on bail unless the Crown is able to demonstrate that their detention is necessary.

The Right to a Trial within a Reasonable Time

The period of time from arrest until the trial date must be reasonable, bearing in mind all the circumstances. This right is engaged when an accused party takes all correct steps in order to move a criminal matter forward but is unable to do so due to the actions of the Crown, Court, or co-accused parties.

DISCLAIMER: The above information is provided for reference only and should not be deemed actual legal advice. If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with a criminal offence, contact Passi & Patel criminal lawyers in Brampton, Mississauga, and Milton, 905-459-0004 now for a no-obligation consultation to discuss your criminal matter further and ensure your legal rights are protected.