Do I have a right to a lawyer if I’m arrested?

Yes. If you’ve been , ask to talk to a lawyer right away.

If the police decide to arrest you, they will usually take you into . This means you are not free to go. People who are being arrested are usually handcuffed. If you’re being arrested, the police believe there are to you with a criminal offence.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects your right to talk to a lawyer without delay when you’re being or arrested. The rights related to talking to a lawyer are called the right to counsel. Always talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police.

What the police are allowed to do

When you’re being arrested, the police usually do their job in the following order:

  1. Tell you that you have the right to talk to a lawyer without delay
  2. Search you for weapons
  3. Complete their booking procedure
  4. Make it possible for you to call a lawyer

If you ask, they must allow you to contact a lawyer. You must tell the police that you want to talk to a lawyer. You must be allowed to talk to the lawyer in private.

The police are allowed to search you for weapons and complete their booking procedure before you talk to your lawyer.

During their booking procedure, the police:

  • bring you into the station
  • enter your name and other information about you into their computer system
  • search you for weapons and
  • take your fingerprints and photograph if required

If you’ve asked to talk to a lawyer, they are not supposed to keep questioning you until after you’ve talked to your lawyer.

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