When dealing with the police, it is important to know your rights. The Winnipeg criminal lawyers at Saheel Zaman Law Corporation get many calls a month from people who have been asked to go to the station to be interviewed by the police in relation as a suspect in a case to a criminal investigation. We also get calls from people who have already gone in for a police interview and are concerned about what occurred and what they said to the police. If the police contact you to come in for a police interview (or if the police ask you to give a statement over the phone), your response should be: "I want to speak with a lawyer first." In this article, our Winnipeg criminal lawyers will discuss how getting advice from a lawyer in advance can protect you in a police interview.
Winnipeg criminal lawyer recommends obtaining legal advice first
Do not let misconceptions prevent you from taking the time to first obtain advice from a criminal lawyer. Many people mistakenly believe that they are legally obligated to give a police interview if asked. Others will give a police interview because they want to be cooperative or because they are afraid that they will “look guilty” if they don’t comply. In some cases, a person will be pressured by the police with a false sense of urgency. Conversely, the police may act very nonchalant and tell a person that they “just want to ask a few questions.” Do not be misled. Nothing is “off the record” even if you have not yet been charged with a criminal offence. A statement can be used as evidence against you if you voluntarily provided it and it is Charter complaint, whether the statement is verbal or in writing, and whether you signed the statement or not. Understand your legal rights when dealing with the police In Canada, you also have the right to remain silent, which means that you cannot be forced to given evidence against yourself. Generally speaking, you have no obligation to provide information to the police (though that rule is subject to a few exceptions, for example, if you are arrested, you must provide the police with your name, address, and date of birth if asked). You also have a right to speak with a lawyer before police start to question you or attempt to take a statement from you, which is why you should get legal advice in advance. While it is true that police in Canada must advise a person of their right to retain and instruct counsel without delay, the obligation on the police to advise of that right only arises when a person is arrested or detained. It is easy to see how a person can be lulled into providing an incriminating statement to police and then later be arrested and charged with a crime on the basis of that statement.
How advance legal advice can protect you in a police interview
There are many benefits to obtaining legal advice in advance of giving a police interview. An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to:
Discuss the risks and benefits of speaking with the police
Clarify your right to silence and ensure you understand how to exercise that right
Advise you on the rules relating to search and seizure of items you bring with you to the station, including whether you need to consent to a search and whether and seized items can be used as evidence (for example, your cell phone)
Talk to you about what to expect during the interview, and what to do if you are detained or arrested once at the police station (if you have been charged, our Winnipeg criminal lawyers can set up a very quick meeting to start preparing your defence and explaining the process and potential consequences)
Give you clear advice about how you should proceed given the facts and circumstances.
The bottom line is that there is no downside to speaking with a criminal lawyer before you speak with the police.
Get clear legal advice from an experienced Winnipeg criminal lawyer
If the police want to “ask you a few questions” or have requested that you come in for an interview, protect yourself by contacting our team of criminal lawyers at 204-943-9922 before giving a statement over the phone or going to the police station. Winnipeg criminal lawyers at Saheel Zaman Law Corporation have the knowledge and experience to provide you with prompt legal advice and clear instructions. You do not have to navigate the criminal justice system on your own. If you have already given a statement or are facing criminal charges, contact us today at 204-943-9922 or by filling out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our experienced criminal lawyers in Winnipeg.