6 rights you cannot be denied if you're accused of a crime

November 18, 2014

Whether innocent or otherwise, if ever you’re accused of a crime in Canada, here are sixrights you cannot be deniedunder the laws of our land.
If you’re accused of a crime, especially a serious one, it’s hard to think straight as visions of prison dance in your head. Buttake a breath, do some research, and above all, hire a lawyer.

Technically speaking, the “accused” is a person who has been officially charged with a criminal offence. This means that the police feel they have reasons, based on evidence, to arrest you and lay a charge or charges. You have not yet been found guilty of these charges. What kind of protection can you therefore expect under the circumstances?
1. You are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
As your lawyer will explain, your rights in criminal and penal matters are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in the Canadian Constitution. You have fundamental rights that must be respected until the judge or jury makes a decision.
2. You are presumed to be innocent
As you no doubt have heard on cop shows, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Among other things, this right means you don’t have to prove you are innocent. The prosecutor must prove your guilt, and do so beyond a reasonable doubt. And you must be given a fair trial by an impartial judge and jury.
3. You have the right to be informed about evidence
Before you go to trial, you have the right to know the prosecutor’s case against you, including the names of witnesses who will testify. This isso you can mount a proper defence.
4. You have the right to a speedy trial
According to the Charter, “Any person charged with an offence has the right…to be tried within a reasonable time.” What’s a “reasonable” amount of time to wait for a trial after a charge is laid can be affected by a number of factors, including the amount of investigative work involved, the number of interested parties and their locations, the complexity of the case, and so on.
5. You have the right to remain silent
With the presumption of innocence, you can’t be compelled to become a witness against yourself. In fact, you can be silent throughout the whole criminal process, from arrest to verdict, and this cannot be taken as a sign of guilt. If you do testify in your own defence, you will be questioned by your lawyer and the prosecutor.
6. You have the right to understand the trial
An accused can ask for the trial to take place in the official language of his choice, either French or English. As well, the government must provide and pay for an interpreter if the accused does not speak French or English, is deaf, or if a witness does not speak the language of the accused.

You have other rights and protections under the Charter. Best to get a lawyer to explain them to you if ever the need should arise.

6 rights you cannot be denied if you're accused of a crime
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu