What are my rights when I’m arrested by the police?

When an accused person is arrested, the police must inform them of the reason for their arrest, their right to counsel of their choice, and their caution (or right to silence). After cautioning the accused, police may conduct an interview in the hopes of getting a confession or obtaining useful evidence against the accused. A person who has been arrested has the right to a lawyer of their choice, but if that lawyer is unavailable in a reasonable amount of time and the accused person refuses to speak to another lawyer, the police are allowed to continue with their questioning. Although an accused person is entitled to a private conversation with legal counsel, they do not have a legal right to call anyone else, including a spouse, unless the accused is underage, in which case the police will contact their parent or guardian. After speaking with legal counsel, the police may continue asking questions, even if the accused asserts their right not to answer anything.


The right to legal counsel also does not mean that the accused has the right to have their lawyer present during questioning – in fact, it is very rare to have your lawyer present during this initial interview. It is important to remember that, upon arrest, an accused person has the right to remain silent, and no adverse inferences can be made simply based on the accused doing so.  After arrest, police will transport an accused to a holding cell and will either release them on a promise to appear in court, or hold them overnight. If held overnight, an accused person will typically be brought before a justice of the peace the following day and released unless the crown can give reasons why it would be in the public interest for them to be held.


Ron Ellis Law is a criminal defence firm based in London, Ontario and we practice criminal defence law all over Southwestern Ontario, including Grand Bend, Sarnia, Woodstock and Kitchener.

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