right to remain silent

The Right to Silence

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

You have the right to remain silent.

As a Canadian citizen, you are probably already aware that you have certain fundamental rights and freedoms, one of which is the right to silence. In Canada, this right, among others is set out in a document called the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, often referred to as simply the Charter.  The right to silence is protected under sections 7 and 11(c) of the Charter, which protect a person from being compelled as a witness against him or herself in a criminal proceeding.

The right to silence is one of the most under-appreciated yet powerful rights an individual has when he or she is under police investigation. And although most people are aware of their right to silence, the unfortunate reality, and one that as criminal defence lawyers we see far too often, is that human beings love to talk. The urge to explain ourselves is human nature, and it increases exponentially when a person is under arrest. But what you may fail to realize is that if you are under arrest, the police are not searching for an explanation – they are searching for evidence to use against you. And it will be used against you.

Police have no obligation to tell you the truth. They are allowed to deceive a suspect in an investigation, as long as the deception is not so offensive that it would shock the conscious of the community. This was clearly stated by the Supreme Court of Canada, and has been upheld by all levels of court across the country. The police are trained to conduct these types of interviews using a wide array of sophisticated interrogation techniques that exploit the weaknesses of human psychology. It is reckless and naïve to believe that you can outsmart the police or convince them of your innocence.

Although it may be against your instincts to choose to remain silent, remember that it is not only your best option, but also your right.

If you would like to speak to an experienced criminal defence lawyer, please contact Affleck & Barrison online or at 905-404-1947.