Do I Have To Talk To Law Enforcement?

Cropped shot of policeman writing in clipboard and talking to woman sitting in car

Whether it’s related to a crime or general questioning, it can be hard to determine when you have to talk to law enforcement and when you don’t. For those who are unfamiliar with the law, you might not realize that what you’re saying could put you in jeopardy. That’s why it’s important to have an understanding of the ramifications of talking to law enforcement and realizing when it is or isn’t necessary.

Here is some useful information to assist you if law enforcement wishes to speak with you:

Know Your Rights

Being a citizen of Canada allows you the right to remain silent, as documented in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In most situations, you don’t have an obligation to provide information to the police. However, that isn’t always the case, as there are some exceptions considered, such as:

  • During an arrest, you must tell the police your name, address, and date of birth. 
  • Drivers and registered vehicle owners must provide information to the police in certain circumstances, such as accidents.
  • Participants in regulated activities must provide certain information to investigators. 

Typically, you aren’t required to give the police any information or assist in any investigations. If you’re ever confused about whether you have to cooperate with law enforcement or how much information you are legally required to provide, you should consult with a lawyer. Your lawyer will know the rules and regulations required when speaking to the police and have your best interests in mind. 

Watch What You Say

The police are trained to try and persuade individuals to speak, which may include getting confessions, admissions of guilt, and inconsistencies out of you, which they may use against you later on. There may be specific things that you said or did that can be used to make you look guilty, especially statements that are taken out of context. When officers later testify in court, they will have to testify to what they recall or what they have written down in their notes. Sometimes it won’t always be true to what was really said. Police officers may spend more than an hour sitting with you before writing down what they remember you saying. This could include paraphrasing them or writing them down as if they were direct quotes, which can dramatically alter the context. 

Will I Look Guilty if I Don’t Talk to the Police?

Officers, judges, and prosecutors all know the rules regarding talking to the police. If you’re accused of a crime, the first thing you should do is phone your lawyer. Not only is it your right, but it also protects you. 

When you have your lawyer present, they will act as the buffer between you and the police/prosecution. This way, your lawyer will be able to get the right story and information prepared that will be helpful to you. 

What if an Officer Wants To Ask Me About a Crime?

In the event that an officer of the law wants to ask you questions about a crime, you should:

  • Invoke your right to remain silent.
  • Politely state that you would like your attorney.

When you say those two things, the police cannot ask you any more questions without a lawyer present. 

Are you looking for the right assistance to tackle your criminal defence case? Perhaps you require the knowledge and experience of assault, firearms possession, or DUI lawyers in Winnipeg. Call for a free consultation today, and let our trained lawyers provide you with the representation you deserve.