All You Need To Know About Your Right To Counsel In Canada

January 5, 2023


Movies and TV shows present an overly simplified version of the judicial system. However, legal processes are way more complex and compounded.

How many of you believe that if you are ever arrested, all you have to do is say, ‘I need a lawyer’ to get a lawyer? Unfortunately, things do not work like that. There are certain limitations to your right to counsel.

As one of the top-rated criminal defence lawyers, we come across many individuals who have a very simplified idea of ‘Right to Counsel’. Hence, to help you understand the concept in a better way, we have explained everything you need to know in this blog.

Also Read: Domestic Assault In Alberta – All You Need To Know

What Is The Right To Counsel?

In the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms the right to counsel is defined as,

“Everyone has the right on arrest or detention… to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right.”

This seems pretty straightforward. However, there is a need to understand how it applies in the real world.

The same section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms further details:

Everyone has the right on arrest or detention:

  • to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;
  • to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right;

Your right to counsel greatly depends on how the clauses of the charter are interpreted and are applied by the court.

What Does Right Of Counsel Allow You To Do?

According to the Supreme court of Canada, if you are arrested or detained, the police should inform you of your right to speak to counsel and provide you with a reasonable opportunity to do so.

Some of the crucial points you should keep in mind while requesting your right to counsel are:

  • Tell the police that you wish to speak to counsel as soon as you are informed of the right. Don’t wait long.
  • The police are required to inform you of your right to counsel but they are not obligated to accommodate it unless you request to speak to a lawyer.
  • Once you have requested to speak to the counsel, the police should not question you until you have talked to the counsel.
  • If you do not request your right to counsel, the police will keep questioning you.
  • You can call a lawyer of your choice, however, if you cannot, the authorities will find a lawyer for you.
  • If you are unable to reach your lawyer, the police will help you connect with a legal aid duty counsel.

Knowing what your right to counsel entails is extremely important for you. This will help you stay on top of the investigation.

What Does Your Right To Legal Counsel Involve?

There are several aspects of the right to legal counsel. These are the actions you can take:

  • Demand to talk to your legal aid privately
  • You can take as much time with your lawyer as needed
  • Ask for another lawyer if you are not satisfied with the one that was provided to you
  • You have the right to remain silent even if the police keep on questioning you

It is imperative that you do not talk to the police in the absence of your lawyer. Always keep the words, ‘anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law” in mind.

Right to Effective Assistance of Counsel

According to Canadian law, everyone has the right to effective assistance from counsel. It is considered a principle of fundamental justice.

If you want to preserve your freedom, do not take any chances and contact the best criminal defence lawyers in your area.

About Slaferek Law

Thanks to our team’s diversity and expertise in different areas of criminal law, we are able to defend clients charged with all different types of offences. Our team of professional criminal lawyers draws from their experience to reap the best possible outcome for our clients. Learn more about SLaferek Law and our team.

Need a defence against sexual assault charges? Contact us now.

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Contacting Darin H. Slaferek

We specialize in criminal law, delivering ethical, effective, and efficient legal solutions that prioritize the best interests of our clients.