Knowing your rights is the best way to protect yourself against unjust criminal charges. As a citizen, you may be wondering what you can do if a police officer begins to question you. Defend yourself against criminal prosecution –  know your options if you are stopped and interrogated by police, and whether or not you are obligated to answer them. 

If you are questioned when you are walking, you only have to answer if the police suspect you have committed a crime, or if they see you do so. But if you are interrogated without any reason, you have no obligation to answer the questions of police officers. Providing a false name or other incorrect information may result in the police charging you with obstruction of justice. In Canada, people cannot be detained randomly. You do not have to let them search your belongings, such as your purse or backpack. If a police officer stops you without any cause for doing so, you can walk away. However, sometimes it may be easier to answer a few questions. Contacting a lawyer for advice is one way to determine the best course of action. 

The scenario is different if you are operating a vehicle or bike: Have you been pulled over when you are driving or cycling? You will be asked to provide ID, and for a vehicle, a valid license, insurance, and registration. In this case, you must comply; the law requires you to do so. Police can test any driver to see whether they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which includes a physical test or a roadside breath sample. This is because driving is a privilege and not a right. While they are not allowed to search inside your car, they can use a flashlight to peer inside the windows. They are only permitted to search your vehicle if they believe it contains illegal drugs or alcohol. Those who have been involved in an accident may be required to give a statement about what transpired.

You have the right to ask the police questions as well. If they are questioning you, ask whether or not you are under arrest – if the answer is yes, you can ask why. But if you are not being detained or arrested, and the police are questioning you, you have the right to remain silent to protect yourself against self-incrimination. 

Have you been arrested or detained? You should contact a lawyer immediately. The police are required to provide a telephone so that you can call for legal aid, even if it takes several attempts to reach them. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible to protect yourself against criminal charges. You can also ask to speak to your lawyer in private. If you are detained, you do not have to answer the police’s questions. They may perform a pat-down search to see if you are carrying weapons. You have the right to know why you are being arrested if it happens, and to remain silent. 

When dealing with the police, you have the right to contact a lawyer; oftentimes, this is the best course of action to take right away. It can prevent you from saying something that may be used against you in court. Winnipeg criminal lawyers can help you. Matt Gould offers effective legal representation. Contact him today to learn about your rights when questioned by police officers.