What Are My Rights When Dealing with the Police?

Graham Zoppi & Hillson

July 12, 2020
criminal defence lawyer in scarborough

Do you know what your rights are if you are stopped by the police? Many people mistakenly assume they must assist the police in their investigation, answer all their questions, and allow them to conduct searches. If you are a suspect or are under police investigation, cooperation with police could hurt your defence later on or allow the police to collect incriminating evidence they can use against you.

You have the legal right against self-incrimination and the best way to preserve that right is to not answer questions asked of you by police. Your silence cannot be used against you in court. However, speaking with an officer could result in obstruction charges if your statements are believed to be false or misleading.

You are generally under no legal obligation to answer questions asked of you by police about any matter. Where there are some laws that allow a police officer to compel statements from you, those compelled statements cannot be used against you in the criminal case later on.

The police do have the right to ask for identification and other personal information in certain circumstances, for example during a traffic stop. A failure to properly identify yourself to officers in those circumstances could result in arrest for an officer to determine your identity.

What Types of Searches Can the Police Conduct?

Unless you consent to a search, the police are bound by restrictions on their search powers when there is no search warrant. Some situations where police can conduct a search without your consent and without a warrant can include pat-down searches of a person for officer safety, inventory searches of a vehicle contents, search of abandoned property, search of property that is in plain view, or a full search of the person upon booking at the police station. A criminal defence lawyer can let you know whether a police search in your case was justified under the law or can be challenged as a breach of your rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

What Happens Next if I am Detained?

If you are being detained for a police investigation, the police should be reading you your legal rights which include your right to remain silent and right to counsel. You should be given an opportunity to speak with a lawyer without delay. If the police make the decision to arrest or charge you, you will then either be released by the police on an undertaking or will be brought to a police station or courthouse for a bail hearing.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence in Scarborough or the GTA, you need to speak to a criminal defence lawyer in Scarborough, Graham Zoppi right away. Call (416) 455-8105 now to schedule a consultation and get the legal representation you need.