Do you have to speak to the Police?

Do you have to speak to the Police?

The general rule is that individuals who are being investigated by the police, in addition to witnesses of criminal offences, are under no obligation to answer any questions.  You can politely inform the police that you do not wish to answer any questions.  A lawyer, at this point, can be called and the lawyer can assist in figuring out what the police want from the individual(s).  There are, however, certain narrow exceptions to this rule.  One is found under the Highway Traffic Act, which requires motorists to answer some inquiries by police officers.

Where an individual is under arrest or being detained, s/he may also exercise his/her right to silence, and also has a right to speak to a lawyer without delay.  It is always best, in these circumstances, that an individual not make a statement to the police, and call a lawyer.  Once you get in touch with a lawyer (whether it is a private or Duty counsel lawyer), the lawyer can advise you further based on the specific situation in which you find yourself.

In almost all cases, the best advice to an individual who has been asked to make a statement and has either been arrested and charged already, or has been detained, is to exercise his/her right to silence.  If an individual has been charged already, the police have already made a determination that there are reasonable grounds to believe an offence has been committed.   There is nothing an accused can tell the police that would assist in his/her defence.  Similarly, if an individual has simply been detained and is asked to make a statement, this might suggest that the police do not have enough evidence upon which to form a reasonable belief that a criminal offence has been committed.  Therefore, if the suspect makes a statement, it is possible that they provide that “missing” link the police needs to form a reasonable belief that the offence being investigated was committed by the detainee.

Keep in mind, however, that if you do decide to speak to the police, you must not mislead them, as this may result in you being charged with one or more criminal offences (obstructing a police officer, public mischief and obstruct justice are three examples of offences of this nature).

For more information about your right to silence, contact a Toronto Criminal Lawyer at (647) 878 – 6355.

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