Being arrested is often frightening and stressful, especially for people unaware of their legal rights. As a result, many Canadians who get arrested tend to wonder whether they have the right to remain silent in Canada.
Well, the quick response is, “Yes.”
This blog explains whether you have the right to remain silent in Canada and when to make the most use of this legal right to come out of the situation.
So, keep reading until the very end to get the crucial answer.
What is Meant by the “Right to Remain Silent in Canada?”
The “right to remain silent” is a legal principle that gives the person complete freedom to speak or remain silent when questioned by law enforcement or court personnel. It is a legal right that many legal systems worldwide acknowledge, either officially or by tradition.
This right covers a wide range of topics related to the defendant’s or accused’s right to remain silent or avoid answering questions before or during court proceedings.
This practice basically refers to reserving two rights; one is the right to keep silent when questioned. In contrast, the other one is the right to avoid self-incrimination.
Besides, these kinds of rights may contain a clause stating that a judge or jury from drawing unfavourable conclusions based on a defendant’s failure to speak up before, during, or after a trial, hearing, or other legal action. This privilege represents only a small percentage of the defendant’s.
Do You Have Any Right to Remain Silent in Canada?
Of course. It is considered one of the legal rights of every Canadian citizen as per Sections 7 and 11 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that safeguard the right to remain silent.
A person detained is not legally required to interact with a police officer or divulge any information based on mere suspicions. According to the law, every person is innocent, and no one has the right to say to someone that s/he is guilty until proven guilty of the charges.
In other words, when someone is arrested or taken into custody in Canada, they can remain silent instead of giving the police any statements. One thing to note here, the police officers are also allowed to continue questioning you in Canada even though you have the option to remain silent.
Police officials may use the helplessness and vulnerability of the people detained by the authorities to force them into confessing. However, you are not required to speak to the police, even if a police officer tells you to.
What will happen if a person wants to speak with the police officer?
However, if a person chooses to speak with a police officer, they must be completely honest with them. Each of the words coming out of their mouth will be noted down and can work as a piece of strong evidence in the future. Besides, giving false statements to a police officer is deemed a criminal offence by law in Canada, and you can be charged with perjury.
Most Canadian people don’t have any knowledge regarding this kind of right to remain silent. Due to this, many people spoke out without thinking about the later consequences and thus tend to suffer in the future.
When Should You Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent?
Exercising your right to silence is crucial to creating a winning defence strategy. Because anything coming out of your mouth could endanger your defence case, becoming the ultimate reason for your conviction.
Contrary to what many people think, refusing to speak with the authorities does not mean that you are admitting guilt. Instead, it demonstrates that you are conscious of your legal rights.
Being silent can be tricky because police officers may exert pressure on you or apply forceful or aggressive methods to encourage you to talk and make comments that could be used against you in court. This is their number one agenda of putting pressure on you.
Most of the time, a person in prison can gain an advantage by using their right to remain silent as soon as they are detained or arrested.
As soon as you have informed the police that you want to exercise your right to silence, you must ask to consult with a lawyer of your choosing in private. The sooner, the better it will be for your case.
Don’t worry; your access to legal assistance is well-protected by Section 10(b) of the Charter.
While waiting for your lawyer to show up or answer the phone, you must keep quiet. Remember, you are under no obligation or pressure to respond to any of the police’s questions.
Things to keep on a note while entering the police station:
Before going into the police station, there is a list of the things you need to check closely. This includes:
- Always dress warmly, act politely and never show any anger
- Here, the key is never to give the cops any information or statement without your lawyer. No matter what the police or other authorities in charge say or promise you, remain silent. Always remain silent and simply repeat, “you may speak to my lawyer,” in case you have to say anything.
- Never make the mistake of expressing an opinion or responding to any inquiries. Otherwise, a single piece of information can become enough to cost you the case. After all, every action is noted down here with precision.
Many arrested people mistakenly think that they will be released free if they talk to the police and give them their side of the story. It mainly happens because they are unaware that speaking to the authorities without a criminal defence lawyer can significantly worsen the situation.
That’s why choosing the right to remain silent in Canada without your lawyer is certainly in your best interest!
Frequently Asked Question
Check out the below queries regarding the right to remain silent in case you have anything to clarify about:
What happens if you choose to exercise your right to silence?
You take away their chance to speak by using your right to silence. Since they cannot make you talk, they must use other methods to gather the information. For instance, they might need to find witnesses to convince the court to initiate a case.
Can the police bring you in for questioning without a warrant?
If you are suspected of a crime, the police may have reason to make an arrest. However, the police are not allowed to search you or any of your possessions without a legitimate search warrant. So, without a search warrant, the police cannot trespass onto private property.
Why is the right of silence important?
The right calls for additional investigations and prevents the prosecution from convicting the incorrect individual. As a result, retaining this right ideally serves as a warning to the government to be more cautious when charging suspects. Additionally, suspects who remain mute during the preliminary hearing are also assumed guilty.