If you are arrested by police, the only information you are required to provide them with is your name, date of birth, and address. Beyond that information, it is your Charter-protected right to remain silent. This right is protected by section 11(c) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which states that no person should be compelled to be a witness against themselves. This right to remain silent extends from the original investigation right up to trial or resolution of your charges. It is the Crown’s job to prove the case against you, not your job to prove your innocence. This is why it is so important that you speak to a lawyer immediately upon being charged and refrain from making any statement to police.
Many people think of the American concept of “pleading the fifth” on the stand when they think of the right to remain silent. In Canada, everyone has the right to remain silent but it does not operate in the exact same way as in the United States. While no accused person in Canada can be forced to testify at their own trial, if an accused decides to testify then they must answer all questions asked of them. If an accused refuses to answer questions while on the stand, it could be detrimental to their credibility or even lead to them being charged with obstructing justice or being in contempt of the court. Deciding whether or not an accused should testify at trial is an important legal decision which should be taken very seriously.
If you are unsure of your rights and would like legal advice, you should seek assistance from experienced counsel. Contact us – 519.204.7966.