Skip to content

What are my rights if I am stopped by the police? What do I say?

Published under Legal blog
What are my rights if I am stopped by the police? What do I say?

If a police officer stops you to ask you questions, here are a few guidelines. Start, by being polite. In any of the three situations below, an officer will have grounds to stop you, if:

  1. they suspect that you have committed a crime;
  2. they see you committing a crime;
  3. you are driving

If the police detain you for investigative purposes, or if you are under arrest, the police are subject to several important obligations regarding your constitutional (Charter) rights.

At the core of these constitutional rights, is a fundamental protection. That is: your right to not incriminate yourself.

Below, we describe three obligations police officers are subject to if they detain you for investigative purposes, or, if you are under arrest.

[1] Your right to be informed promptly of the reasons for your detention or arrest

The police must promptly explain to you of the reason why they are detaining, or arresting, you. Once you are detained, or arrested, by the police, you are vulnerable. So, to protect you from incriminating yourself, you must be advised immediately of the reason why you are being detained. With this information, you will be in a better position to exercise your other constitutional rights.

[2] Your right to remain silent

To prevent you from self-incrimination, the police have a duty to caution you (anything you say could be used as evidence against you in Court). Namely, the police must advise you of your right to remain silent.

[3] Your right to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right

Next, the police have a duty to inform you of your right to retain and instruct a lawyer at the onset of investigative detention, or upon your arrest. Then, they must facilitate your access to a lawyer as soon as practicable to reduce the possibility of accidental self-incrimination. Until the requested access to a lawyer is provided, there is an obligation on the police to refrain from taking further investigative steps to elicit evidence.

Under certain circumstances and conditions, if the police fail to comply with these obligations, and they elicit compromising evidence from you, this evidence can be excluded by the Court.

This article is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion.