The Police and your Rights

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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.

The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide only general information on legal issues within the Province of Alberta. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you have a legal concern and require legal advice, you should consult a lawyer.

The Charter of Rights and Freedom provides that:

  1. It is your right not to be held in custody or stopped by anyone from moving about
  2. Police cannot go against this right
  3. If the police are to detain you, they must
    1. Suspect that you have committed an offence, or
    2. About to commit an offence
  4. The police can stop and search your vehicle or do a check on your breath to check for alcohol
  5. If you are stopped by the police for the above purposes, it is considered reasonable within the law to prevent drunk driving and the safety of road traffic.
  6. If the offence is not serious, the police can charge you with the offence and let you go
  7. If you are to go to court, you will receive a document called ‘’APPEARNACE OF NOTICE’’ and also a Fingerprinting
  8. You must attend court whenever you are charged with an offence
  9. If you fail to appear in court, you will be charged with ‘’FAILING TO APPEAR’’
  10. The police must inform you of the reason/s for your arrest unless you were caught in the act of committing the offence
  11. The police must inform you if the reason/s for your arrest changes at any time
  12. In a case of a serious offence, the police can detain or arrest you
  13. If you are arrested, the police must inform you of your right to speak to a lawyer and have him handle your case
  14. The police must provide you with the means of contacting a lawyer, for example by telephone
  15. If you cannot pay for the services of a lawyer, the police must tell you about the free legal services available
  16. The police must be reasonable to allow you choose and speak to a lawyer of your choice
  17. The police must allow you the use of a telephone and when you are speaking to your lawyer, they must you some privacy
  18. Unless and until you have a good opportunity to speak to a lawyer of your choice, the police cannot ask you questions or attempt to gather evidence from you.
  19. It is only after you speak to your lawyer that the police may continue with their investigation
  20. Even where the police want to gather evidence after you speak to your lawyer, you have the right not to talk to the police or say anything about your involvement in any offence.
  21. You can waive your right not to speak to a lawyer and tell the police that you do not want a lawyer
  22. The waiver not to speak to a lawyer must be voluntary and understood by you
  23. If you are detained and you believed it was without good or legal reasons, you have the right to be quickly brought before a judge and ask for your release.
  24. If the court finds that your detention is not lawful, you have a right to be released immediately.
  25. You have a right to be given reasonable bail
  26. For a bail to be refused, the crown prosecutor must prove to the court that –
    1. you may not likely appear on your court dates or
    2. you may commit a crime if you are allowed to leave
  27. If you are arrested for a drug offence, you must prove to the court that if you are released that –
    1. you will not commit other crimes
    2. you will return to court on next adjourned date
    3. you will obey all the conditions attached to your release