By: Tinnish Andersen

If you are detained or arrested by a police officer you must be told why you have been arrested or detained. The officer must tell you immediately that you have the right to a lawyer, that you have the right to free legal advice through Legal Aid Ontario, and that you have the right to speak to a lawyer in private, as soon as practicable, if you ask to do so.

If you are a youth (under the age of 18), you have the right to contact your parent(s) or legal guardian to have them present when you talk to the police, but only if you want them to be there with you. In addition to calling your parent(s) or legal guardian, you have the right to speak with a lawyer.

The police have a duty to stop questioning you once you have requested to speak with a lawyer. The police have a further duty to provide you with a 24 hour toll free number to connect you to a duty counsel lawyer provided by Legal Aid Ontario at no cost to you.

Once you are connected via telephone to duty counsel/private counsel, the lawyer will firstly inquire whether you can hear him/her, whether you have privacy and he/she will inquire whether you have sustained any injuries. The lawyer will advise you that you have the right to remain silent, and not to make any statements to the police orally, written or by way of videotape.

The lawyer will speak to the police on your behalf and advise you, based on your charges, whether the police are going to release you on “your own recognizance” or whether you will be “held for bail” and transported to a court house within 24 hours for the purpose of a bail hearing.

While you are at the police station, the police will question you and attempt to gather information that can be used against you in court. The police may demand that you provide body samples, such as hair, saliva, blood or urine, provide a handwriting sample and/or take part in a photo line up (without your counsel present) in order to build evidence against you. A lawyer would advise you not to do so since you have so such obligation. Similarly, you have no legal obligation to take part in a polygraph test, as the test results are not admissible in court. The only thing you must provide to the police is your fingerprints and photo… but only if they ask you for it.

If you are released “on your own recognizance”, you will be released from the police station, under your own supervision, once the necessary documentation has been prepared. Ensure that you read the release documents carefully, ensure that you abide by any release conditions and that you attend the court date provided to you on the release documents. Should you fail to attend court, you will be charged with a criminal offence.

If you are held for bail, you will be transported to the court house for the purpose of a bail hearing. You may be released if you are supervised by a Surety while on bail. Your Surety will be a family member or friend approved by the court who posts bail and supervises you with conditions imposed by the court, until your case is completely resolved.

A Surety ensures that you attend all court appearances, that you obey all rules that the court orders, and ensures that the accused does not commit any further criminal offences. If you break any of the conditions of bail or fail to appear in court, the Surety must report this to the police immediately or the Surety may be asked to forfeit the bail money. When a bench warrant is issued, it is the responsibility of the Surety to see that the accused turns himself in to the police.

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