1. Ask to talk to a lawyer

If you haven’t already, ask to talk to a lawyer.

Your rights

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

The police must tell you that you have this right. If you ask, they must allow you some time to contact the lawyer you want. You must be allowed to talk to the lawyer in private.

If you do not speak or understand English, tell the police so that they can take steps to make sure that legal advice is given through an interpreter or a lawyer who speaks your language.

You are allowed to call someone who is not a lawyer if the purpose of the phone call is to get help to find a lawyer.

If you still do not understand your rights after talking to a lawyer you should clearly tell the police. The police may have a duty to give you the opportunity to talk to another lawyer.

Services while in custody

If you need to talk to a lawyer while you’re in , the police must tell you about the Brydges duty counsel service. This is a service provided by Legal Aid Ontario. It gives free legal advice to anyone in Ontario who is detained or arrested. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The service is available in English, French, and any other language through an interpreter.

Tell the police officer that you want to talk to if you don’t have your own criminal lawyer. The officer should call the hotline for you and let you speak with duty counsel in private. If duty counsel is not available, the officer can leave a message and duty counsel should call you back within 30 minutes.

What the police are allowed to do

If you already talked to a lawyer earlier, the police may not let you to contact your lawyer again. They can say that you’ve already used your right to counsel.

The police should let you contact your lawyer a second time if you didn’t get any advice about release conditions during your first consultation. But if you already talked to a lawyer earlier, they may not let you contact your lawyer again. If this happens, you will have to decide whether you want to sign your release conditions without talking to a lawyer.

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