Criminal Law Makes YOU Your First Line of Defence: Part 1

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Calgary citizens, listen up: while a good criminal defence lawyer is an absolute necessity if you've been arrested or accused of a crime, you are the first line of defence in Canada's criminal justice system. Though it might sound strange coming from a lawyer, it's the truth: there are some things that only you can control, and they can make or break your criminal defence case.

Your Criminal Defence Case Starts at Your Arrest or Accusation

Before you even contact a criminal defence lawyer—before you even know you need a criminal defence lawyer, in many cases—your defence has already begun. Section 10 of the [Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms], which spells out what everyone in Calgary and throughout Canada is entitled to from the very first second they are arrested or detained by the Calgary police, the RCMP, or other law enforcement agents:

"10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention

  • (a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;
  • (b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
  • (c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful."

 Read that again. Memorize it. Your criminal defence case depends upon you knowing and exercising your rights.

You never want to get combative or argumentative with law enforcement officers, but you can insist that they tell you why you are being arrested or detained and insist on speaking with a criminal defence lawyer right away—before answering any questions or even responding to accusations of a criminal offence.

Criminal Defence Lawyers can Stop Wrongful Arrests Immediately

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms makes your right to be treated fairly by law enforcement one of the paramount guiding features of the Canadian criminal justice system. Not only do law enforcement agents in Calgary and across the country have to tell you why you're being arrested or detained and allow you to speak with a criminal defence lawyers, but the highest body of law in the land also allows anyone to challenge the validity of an arrest or detention.

Most law enforcement agents are careful to follow the rules most of the time, but unlawful arrests and detentions happen all too frequently. When these arrests aren't properly handled by an experienced criminal defence lawyer, they can lead to nightmare criminal defence scenarios.

The first thing you should do when you've been arrested or detained for any reason is contact a criminal defence lawyer and allow them to judge the validity of your arrest. They might be able to have you free and clear in a matter of minutes.

Criminal Defence Knowledge Belongs in Every Calgary Home

Most people will never have to face charges of a serious criminal offence, but being prepared is the only way to fully protect yourself if the unthinkable occurs. Make sure you and the members of your household know your rights if you're arrested or detained, and contact a Calgary criminal defence lawyer before you say anything to law enforcement.

This is Part One of a three-part article on your criminal defence rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For Part Two, please click here.

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