Being charged with a criminal offence in a country like Canada, which deals very strictly with anyone who tends to violate laws and cause unrest in society, can be a scary experience. Many view criminal charges as monstrous and irreversible occurrences that threaten to take away everything from their professional aspirations to social life and even societal image.
Rightly so, the Canadian judicial system lays forth severe punishments for those that intentionally break the law or cause harm to any other individual in any way. However, it is imperative to understand that the province enacted those laws to protect the public’s rights. Like any other individual, a person charged with a criminal offence also has rights that no entity is allowed to deny.
So if you have been charged with a criminal offence, do not let the dread overwhelm you as the province will protect your rights. Just let a reputed criminal defence lawyer handle your case, and they will make sure to not only defend you against all charges but also protect and uphold all your rights through every stage of the process.
In this regard, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the fundamental document that comprehensively explains and guarantees the rights of every individual in our democratic and free society. As an individual facing criminal charges, it is important for you to learn about your rights so that you can take a valid stand for yourself if needed.
In this blog post, we shall explore the most crucial rights you must know about when facing a criminal charge in Alberta.
Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms: An Overview
The Charter of Rights is part of the Canadian Constitution which contains a set of laws containing laws that govern how the country operates. It primarily explains the rights of every individual in Canada.
While it guarantees a lot of rights, those applicable to our discussion are the legal rights addressed in Section 7 to Section 14. Among these, the ones covered in Sections 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 are those that are particularly pertinent during criminal procedures. Understanding these rights and how they apply to criminal defence cases in Edmonton is crucial for anyone facing criminal charges.
Let us discuss each right briefly:
The Right To Life, Liberty, And Security Of The Person (Section 7)
If you thought freedom was something unthinkable when facing criminal proceedings, then you must understand this right for your own good. This section of the Charter requires every entity, be it government officials or law-enforcing organizations, to respect the principles of fundamental justice when dealing with an individual charged with or convicted of a criminal offence.
The section requires that an individual must not be deprived of their right to life, liberty, and security except in accordance with the basic principles of justice. The section applies to arrest, detention, and trial proceedings. Ultimately, this right lays the foundation for all the other legal rights of the accused.
This means that no one has the right to treat you ‘unfairly’ even if you are convicted of an offence. The province has the responsibility to ensure that the accused is not unnecessarily detained and is before a judge as soon as reasonably possible for a judicial review of their detention.
Even if you are convicted, the province has the responsibility to ensure that the punishment is not unreasonable and is in accordance with and proportional to the province’s interest.
The Right To Be Free From Unreasonable Search And Seizure (Section 8)
As per the Supreme Court of Canada, this right protects the reasonable expectation of privacy of an accused (R. v. Cole). Unlike what is portrayed in the movies, the police or any law-enforcement authority does not have the right to just barge into someone’s house, search their property, and then drag them to prison.
The police must conduct their duties in a fair and reasonable manner. If the police have to invade private property, they must establish stringent circumstances to do so. In all other cases where search or seizure is required, the police must obtain a search warrant.
This signifies that the individual is entitled to privacy regarding their personal information and property and that the police must justify that the search or seizure was required to fulfil a valid investigation objective.
The Right Not To Be Arbitrarily Detained Or Imprisoned (Section 9)
This right links closely to the right to liberty and applies to both pretrial detentions and after conviction (R. v. Askov). This right requires that the police’s power does not allow them to unreasonably detain an individual by taking them into custody or holding them at any place. The police must have reasonable grounds for detaining an individual.
Even if you are accused of a criminal offence, the police can not detain you for an unreasonable amount of time. Their detention is subject to review by the court.
The Right To Be Informed Of The Reasons For Arrest And The Right To Retain And Instruct Counsel (Sections 10(A), 10(B), And 10(C))
Individuals often feel so deterred and perplexed when being arrested that they don’t even ask why they are being arrested. If you think asking this question might further enrage the police officer, know that the Charter gives you a chance to actually challenge the lawfulness of your arrest and even seek counsel before speaking to the police (R. v. Suberu).
In fact, the police have the responsibility to inform you of these rights.
Section 10 states that:
Everyone has the right on arrest or detention:
- to be informed promptly of the reasons, therefore;
- to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
- to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.
The Right To A Fair And Public Trial (Sections 11(D) And 11(F))
Section 11 relates to an individual’s right to be publicly trialled within a reasonable time (R v. Jordan) by a fair, independent, and impartial tribunal. The section also discusses several other relevant rights, such as the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.
Thus, a charge for a criminal offence does not mean you will automatically be regarded and treated like a criminal. You will be presumed innocent until the Crown can prove beyond reasonable doubt that you are guilty. To protect your interests, rights, and reputation, obtain criminal defence services from a reputed criminal defence lawyer in Edmonton.
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