What is Right to Remain Silent? Everything You Need to Know

June 11, 2022   |   Manbir Sodhi   |  
Right to Remain Silent Ontario
Right to Remain Silent Ontario

What is Right to Remain Silent? Everything You Need to Know

Have the police ever pulled you over? Have you ever had one of your loved ones in trouble with the law? If so, you have probably wondered, “What is the right to remain silent?”

When you are under arrest, anything you say can incriminate you in a court of law. It is advisable to keep silent and wait for lawyers to acquaint themselves with your case. This is the essence of the “right to remain silent.”

What Does the Right to Remain Silent Mean?

What does the right to remain silent mean? In Canada, you have the right not to talk to the police in a criminal case. This is the “right to remain silent.” You have this right if you are under arrest or simply helping the police with their investigation.

You must tell them the truth when under arrest and examination by the police or person in authority, and you choose to speak to the police without a lawyer present. If the police think your story is different from what they have discovered, you could be charged with obstruction of justice, obstructing a police officer, or public mischief.

Does Police Read the Miranda Warning in Canada?

What is the right to remain silent regarding Miranda rights in Canada?

Most of us have heard of Miranda rights from a 1966 American Supreme Court case called “Miranda v. Arizona.” In Canada, we do not have Miranda rights.

Instead, we have many legal rights enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

When under arrest in Canada, police must do the following:

  • Section 7 of the Charter gives you a clear police warning or caution about the right to remain silent.
  • As per section 10(b), the police must advise that anything you do or say may incriminate you in a Court of Law.
  • As per section 11(a) of the Charter, explain why you are under arrest, e.g. “You are arrested for grievous bodily harm.”
  • As per section 11(b) of the Charter, explain clearly your right to speak to a lawyer. This means you have the right to retain and instruct, in private, a lawyer to represent you immediately.

An essential difference between American Miranda rights and Canadian Charter rights is that you do not have the right to have a lawyer during a police interview (unless you’re under 18). The Supreme Court confirmed this in a 2010 decision, R. v. Sinclair, 2010 SCC 35.

Final Thoughts

We hope this article has answered the question, “What is the right to remain silent?”

If you are facing criminal charges and are eager to fight your charges and prove your innocence, remaining silent can benefit you. Manbir Sodhi, Defence Lawyer in Brampton, knows the ins and outs of this process and can help you navigate Canada’s legal system while helping you understand your rights. 

Contact us at (905) 457-2546 for a free, no-obligation appointment.

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