Everyone has the right on arrest or detention…..to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right

Section 10(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

If a police officer places you under arrest or detains you in Canada, there is only one constitutional right that the state is obligated to tell you about: The right to counsel.

At the time of arrest or detention, a lawyer serves as a gateway for immediate information and advice with respect to all of a detainee’s rights and obligations when interacting with the state. 

A police officer’s failure to advise a detainee of the right to counsel will jeopardize the admissibility of any evidence that the officer subsequently obtains from the detainee. 

If you are ever detained or arrested, an officer must inform you that you have the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay.

The Supreme Court of Canada, however, has directed that an officer must go beyond simply repeating the bare text of the Charter.

In R. v. Brydges, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 190, the Court directed that an officer must also provide a detainee with information about the existence and availability of duty counsel (free and immediate, but temporary, legal assistance over the telephone, regardless of the detainee’s financial circumstances) and provincial Legal Aid plans (the opportunity to apply for full representation, free of charge, at a later date if the detainee meets certain prescribed criteria).

In R. v. Bartle, [1994] 3 S.C.R. 173, the Court directed that an officer must also provide a detainee with information about how to access available services that provide free, preliminary legal advice. The Court directed that the 1-800 number for accessing free and immediate legal advice is part of the required information that an officer must provide to a detainee.

 

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