What to Do if you are being Investigated?
Knowing your rights when you are suspected of committing an offence is essential. Criminal investigations cannot simply be ignored until they go away, so it is important to know what steps you should take and actions you should avoid if you are being investigated.
If you are arrested or detained, ask why.
You have the right to know why you are being arrested or detained, be searched reasonably, remain silent and speak to a lawyer.
Do not resist being arrested or detained. You are legally obligated to comply with police requests or demands with the exception of remaining silent. Section 9 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects individuals from being arbitrarily detained or imprisoned. Detention includes physical constraint by police as well as psychological constraint. Psychological constraint involves situations where you feel you have no choice but to comply with police requests.
If you believe that you were arbitrarily detained or arrested, speak to one of our experienced Criminal Lawyers to discuss your matter in detail over a free consultation.
Speak to a lawyer before speaking with the police.
If you are detained by an officer or approached for questioning, you do not need to answer any questions without first speaking to a lawyer. Anything you say can be used against you as evidence in court. Even if officers just want to chat and ask you a few questions, you have the right to remain silent. It is essential that you speak to a lawyer before agreeing to or admitting to anything.
Do not obstruct an investigation or destroy evidence.
Lying about personal information or misleading officers is an obstruction of an investigation and may lead to being accused of obstructing justice. Do not deny information either. It is better to remain silent than to intentionally or unintentionally obstruct an investigation.
Do not intentionally or unintentionally destroy any evidence that could be considered relevant to the investigation. You should not delete computer files, recycle files or get rid of materials that might make it look like you are destroying evidence. Destroying evidence can also lead to being accused of obstructing justice, another criminal offence. Additionally, you could unintentionally destroy evidence that can be used in your defence without even knowing it.
Do not consent to any form of search.
If you have been detained for investigative purposes, police have the power to search your person for protective purposes if it is reasonable in the circumstances.
If you have been arrested, police have the discretion to search incident to arrest because they have reasonable and probable grounds to arrest you. Regardless, the search must be for a valid purpose (to preserve evidence, to protect the public, officer or accused) and must be conducted in a reasonable way.
Any other search of your home, vehicle, other property or person requires authorization by a search warrant. Police must have reasonable and probable grounds to believe there is evidence to be found at the place of the search in order to obtain a valid search warrant. Section 8 of the Charter protects individuals from unreasonable search and seizure. Consenting to a search of your property without first consulting a lawyer means you are giving up one of your essential rights guaranteed by the Charter.
Do not speak about any charges with the public or post on social media.
Statements you make to other individuals including family members as well as posts on social media can be used as evidence against you. Just as remaining silent with police is important, it is also important not to discuss the matter with others except your lawyer.
To best protect yourself while being investigated is, you must understand your rights and seek out the advice of an experienced criminal lawyer. If you are looking for more information and want to discuss your situation in more detail, you can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here.
Nothing in this article should be considered or relied on as legal advice or opinion. This article only provides general information. Should you require assistance, please contact our office to book a free initial consultation.