1. Know your rights

Your rights

When you’re or by the police, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects your rights.

You have the right to:

  • be told why you’re being detained or arrested
  • only be searched in a reasonable manner
  • remain silent
  • talk to a lawyer

If you are under the age of 18, the police must contact your parent or guardian. 

If you are older, you do not have the right to phone family and friends when the police are holding you in . But if you ask politely, they will usually allow you to make this type of phone call. 

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.

What the police are allowed to do

The police are allowed take you into custody when they arrest you. This means they do not have to let you leave. They can make you stay at the police station.

If you are drunk in public, the police can take you into custody until you become sober. The police will usually make you stay at the police station overnight and let you leave in the morning.

After taking you into custody, within 24 hours the police must:

  • let you leave, or
  • bring you before a judge or a justice of the peace, and not cause an unreasonable delay in giving you a

If you’re arrested on the weekend, or a judge or justice of the peace is not available, you may be in police custody longer.

The judge or justice of the peace may:

  • release you with or without conditions at a hearing, or
  • order that you remain in custody until your case is resolved
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