Your Rights Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Dennis Reeve, criminal lawyer with the Newmarket firm of Hobson, Reeve, explains your rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was formed as part of our constitutional repatriation in 1982. It is a supreme document in the sense that all authority given to the government must be exercised in accordance with the principles and protections afforded to persons charged with an offence, by the Charter. The Charter applies to the conduct of police officers, the Criminal Code and to the process of the criminal justice system.

Some of the rights that are afforded to you as a person accused of an offence include:

  • -the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure
  • -the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned
  • -the rights, upon arrest or detention, to be informed promptly of the reasons for the arrest or detention and to be able to consult with a lawyer without delay and to be informed of that right.
  • -to be informed promptly of the specific charges
  • -to be tried within a reasonable time
  • -not to be compelled to be a witness against yourself
  • -to be presumed innocent until proven guilty
  • -to be tried in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal
  • -not to be denied bail without just cause

Before 1982 an accused person did not have most of these rights. For example, in a trial the police may have gathered evidence against you in a manner that was illegal however the illegality of the police conduct was irrelevant. One of the major changes the Charter brought about in a criminal proceeding was to obligate the courts to supervise the actions of the police to ensure that they have investigated and acted in accordance with your rights and also to supervise its own function, for the same reasons.

If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with criminal law issues in the Newmarket, Ontario Region, contact Hobson & Reeve Barrsiters for a consultation.

This article is taken from an Aug 4, 2011 interview with Dennis Reeve, Criminal Lawyer with Hobson & Reeve Barristers, an Newmarket, Ontario Criminal Law Firm. This article and website provide general information on legal and related matters and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should consult and retain qualified legal professionals in your area to advise you about your particular situation and the law in your jurisdiction as laws vary from province to province, state to state and country to country.