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Your Right to Counsel Upon Arrest

If you’ve been arrested or detained by the police, it is of vital importance that you understand your rights, including your right to consult with a criminal defence lawyer. Section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, requires that you be informed of your right to counsel and your right to seek legal aid at the time of your arrest or detention. In fact, some courts have concluded that even if a person in custody decides not to consult with a lawyer, Section 10 is violated if the police fail to provide that information. Whether or not the police advise you of your right to counsel, always exercise that right and seek the advice of a criminal defence lawyer immediately.Interrogations

Even though Canadian law guarantees your right legal counsel, it also places limits on the scope of that guarantee. For instance, in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the right to counsel does not extend to police interrogations. That is, even though police have an obligation to inform arrestees and detainees of their right to legal counsel, that doesn’t mean that a defence lawyer needs to be present during the duration of the interview. Even though the court concluded that detainees have the right to legal counsel if the result of the investigation warrants the consultation, the court’s ruling has significantly expanded police powers and eroded constitutional guarantees of detainees.

Duty Counsel and Legal Aid

Even though they may interrogate you, police still must inform you of your right to legal counsel, including the availability of legal assistance from a government duty counsel or Canada Legal Aid lawyer if you can’t afford a private lawyer. When police inform you of your right to legal counsel, they must do so immediately upon your arrest or detention. Once they do so, however, they have no further obligation to provide you a reasonable opportunity to exercise that right. But once you obtain a lawyer, the law prescribes that any meetings between you and your lawyer while in detention must be in private.

Whatever the circumstances of the arrest or detention, the police can commit any number of missteps. Constitutional violations can occur. If you believe that may have happened in your case, you are advised to seek the services of an experienced criminal defence lawyer who can investigate and determine what effect this may have on your case and your defence.


Since 1996, the law firm of Mitch Engel, Barrister & Solicitor has been providing clients throughout the Toronto, Oshawa, Brampton, and Mississauga areas with top-level criminal defence representation. Mitch Engel understands what acceptable police conduct is and will fight to protect you against actions that violate your rights. With an exclusive focus on criminal defence, he has keen insight into successful defence strategies and is passionate about helping his clients achieve the best possible resolution to their matters. Call Mitch Engel at (866) 761-7077 to get the legal advice you need to reclaim your life.


The materials provided on this site are for information purposes only. These materials constitute general information relating to areas of law familiar to our firm lawyers. They do NOT constitute legal advice or other professional advice and you may not rely on the contents of this website as such.

Mitch Engel Barrister & Solicitor
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