Tag Archives: Right to your lawyer

The Right to a Lawyer Of Choice

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that anyone under arrest or detention has the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay.

Police have to advise the person under arrest of their rights. In order to speak to a lawyer, the person under arrest must tell the officer that they wish to exercise that right: they must tell the officer that they want to speak to a lawyer.

Once an individual advises they wish to exercise a right, the police must provide a reasonable opportunity to exercise the right, except in urgent or dangerous circumstances. This means that once an individual asks to speak to a lawyer, the police must make reasonable attempts to allow her that conversation.

Many people don’t have a lawyer on call, and don’t know any criminal lawyers. To remedy this situation, police officers often have a list of lawyers who practice criminal law in their jurisdiction, or offer to call an on-call duty counsel to provide free advice. It’s important to note, however, that if an accused wants to contact a specific lawyer, police must make reasonable efforts to find and contact that lawyer on the accused’s behalf. The arrested person is not limited to speaking only with the lawyers on a list, or duty counsel.

Sometimes, people call the first lawyer they can get a hold of, because they cannot research lawyers at the police station. It is important to know that an accused person is not obligated to continue to retain the same lawyer they spoke with at the police station: they should find a lawyer they are comfortable with.

Courts have often reiterated the importance of the right to counsel. If the court does not believe the police respected an individual’s right to counsel, the charges can be dismissed on that basis. If you were not allowed to call your lawyer of choice, contact Celine Dostaler today to discuss your case. Celine Dostaler if an Ottawa criminal lawyer that has successfully defended individuals whose rights to counsel of choice was denied by the police.

Only One Phone Call

American television often portrays an accused person asking for their lawyer to be present during a police interview. But what are our rights as Canadians when arrested and interviewed by the police?

In Canada, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides us with our rights. You do not have the right to have their lawyer present when they are speaking to police. Instead, you have a right to a phone call to a criminal defence lawyer.

What is this right to speak to a lawyer? When an individual is accused of a crime, she is advised that they have the right to speak to a lawyer or to Duty Counsel. If the individual chooses to speak to a lawyer, they are provided with a list of lawyers and that person must choose one. That person chooses a lawyer based off a list of names, without knowing anything about that person. The lawyer provides advice regarding the charges and what to do next, and the individual is then brought to the interview room and asked questions by the police.

The accused only has the right to contact the lawyer once, with one phone call, before the interview. However, if there is a change in jeopardy (for example the police decide to charge the accused with more offences), she will have the right to speak to a lawyer again.

The first contact with a lawyer at the police station does not require the accused to hire that lawyer. In fact, it is best to do research on your lawyer before you hire someone.

It is important to have trust and faith in your lawyer. Your lawyer will be there to help you navigate the criminal justice system. Your lawyer should help you understand what the charges are, understand what the next steps for you will be, explain what is happening and represent your interests. Although your lawyer knows the law and the processes, they should not tell you what to do: your lawyer should help you make the right decision for you, by providing you with the pros and cons, and results of each option.