You have been arrested…Now what?

If you are stopped or arrested, it is very important that you remain calm and avoid conflict with the police. Keep control of your words, body language and emotions so that the situation does not escalate. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the Canadian Constitution, gives you certain rights in the event of arrest or detention.

If you are arrested or detained you must be:

* Told why you have been arrested or detained
* Told immediately that you have the right to a lawyer
* Told about Legal Aid, and your right to free legal advice
* Allowed to speak with your lawyer, in private, as soon as possible if you ask to do so

If you are under the age of 18, you should also be allowed to contact your parents or guardian and to have them with you when you speak with the police, if you want them there. You do not have to choose between calling your parents or guardian and calling your lawyer. You can do both.

If you ask to speak with a lawyer, the police should stop questioning you. And if you have been arrested, the police should give you the 24-hour, toll-free number to get free legal advice from duty counsel. This is the lawyer provided by Legal Aid Ontario.

Once you have spoken with your lawyer, the police can continue to ask questions. However, you have the right to remain silent and do not have to answer, not matter how many times they ask.

Below you will find explanations for the steps involved in most criminal cases:

An accused person has the right to consult with legal counsel before making any statements to the police. It is CRUCIAL that you take advantage of the right to receive timely and effective advice upon arrest. Lawyers working out of 30 Queen Law Offices are available 24 Hours a day to assist you in this regard.

Once, arrested an accused will either be released by police, or, detained in custody overnight. If detained, an accused will be brought before a Justice of the Peace within 24 hours. You can then either be released with the consent of the crown prosecutor, or proceed to a bail hearing to determine whether you will be released.

First Appearance
The first appearance in court is usually administrative in nature and they are normally used only to exchange information and to set dates for trial, or resolution. You will NOT be given an opportunity to present your defence in these first appearance courts. These courts allow you and your lawyer to request and receive disclosure, set up resolution meetings with the crown and address other administrative issues, or the resolution of your legal case.

Trial and Resolution Court
Once your lawyer has completed all of the administrative steps necessary for your case, your matter can be moved into Trial Court or Resolution Court, where your case will be heard and fully resolved. The length of these proceedings can vary depending on the type of charges that you face.

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