What Does “Right to Remain Silent” Mean and What are Your Obligations to the Police Under the Law?

The right to remain silent flows from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is a fundamental right belonging to anyone who has dealings with police. This means that a person is not obligated to speak to the police or any person in authority at any time. You still have an obligation to provide a police officer with your driver’s licence, registration and insurance papers when pulled. However, you have no obligation to talk to them.

Although you have a right to silence, the police do not, in every situation, have an obligation to advise you of your right to silence. For example, if the police are casually speaking to you and not accusing you of a crime then they needn’t advise you of your right to silence. However, if the police arrest you, they have an obligation under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to “Charter Warn” you – in other words, they must advise you that you have a right to silence, a right to speak to a lawyer etc. This right to silence extends from the first dealings with the police to trial and sentencing. Hence, you are not obligated to testify at your own criminal trial.

In many cases a person, when dealing with the police, will talk to the police and may say things that are self-incriminatory (ie, things that make a person look guilty). In some cases, the police will do things that are in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In such a case a judge, at an accused’s trial, has the power to exclude evidence such as a confession or any statement that is self-incriminatory.

Noah Neaman has over 25 years of experience dealing with important issues such as the right to silence. If you are unsure of what your rights are and you are dealing with the police, call Noah Neaman at 778-881-1785 for a free initial consultation.


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