Defend Your Freedom: Understand Canadian Rights to Counsel For Detainees

January 23, 2022   |   Manbir Sodhi   |  
Rights to Counsel Ontario
Rights to Counsel Ontario

Defend Your Freedom: Understand Canadian Rights to Counsel For Detainees

What freedoms do the Canadian rights to counsel include for those who face detainment? The first provision is that every detained person in Canada holds the constitutional right to retain counsel and seek a fair trial, regardless of the case’s exceptional circumstances.

In this post, Manbir Sodhi Criminal Defence Law examines the right to counsel in Canada, including the details in the Section 10 Charter of Rights and Freedoms and civil legal aid options.

The Right to Retain, Choose, and Instruct Counsel

Whether from police oversight or inexperience, many citizens are unaware of their rights and how to access counsel in their hour of need. There are two key elements expressly stated in Section 10B (within Section 10 of the Charter):

  • rights to consult with legal representation “without delay” when detained, and
  • a reasonable expectation that the detaining or arresting officer must inform the detainee of that right.

The phrase “without delay” means as soon as the police officer detains someone. However, urgent and dangerous circumstances like public safety threats could indicate the next reasonable opportunity after the police officers neutralize the threat. Canadian-based detainees can retain, choose, and instruct a legal representative to work on their behalf.

Why Legal Counsel Exists

Canadian arrest rights exist to ensure that everyone has the right to a reasonable trial with legal assistance if they so choose. Without that right to counsel, anyone in a high-stress environment like a police station might misrepresent themselves in ways that a prosecutor could use against them. However, with defence counsel present, detained individuals obtain advice on progressing from arrest to trial from someone who understands the system. 

The right to consult counsel is essential to the framework of Canadian law, and accused individuals have full access to duty counsel. These representatives are the legally appointed counsel offering legal services for those who do not have their own lawyers. Detaining officers must inform those they arrest that they can also seek assistance from these counsellors.

Canada’s Supreme Court Requirements For Seeking Legal Aid

Why does the right to counsel exist? Primarily to protect detained individuals in Canada from saying something ill-advised and disadvantaging themselves during a fair trial. A critical requirement in the right to counsel is that the police should stop collecting statements until the counsel arrives if the accused seeks counsel during questioning. However, the legal requirement that officers inform detainees of their right to legal aid does mean those individuals must or will accept it. 

Preliminary legal advice exists to help all detained persons navigate criminal investigations and court proceedings with equity. They can waive the right to counsel, but support is available if they need it.

Support and Counsel from Manbir Sodhi Criminal Defence Law

If the time comes, remember that a person’s right to counsel in the Canadian legal system allows three privileges:

  • The right to speak with a counsel at your request
  • The right to choose a legally appointed counsel 
  • The right to contact counsel as soon as possible

Manbir Sodhi Criminal Defence Law lends support and advice —call our team at (905) 457-2546 today.

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