Know Your Rights When Police Are Arresting You

In the fine country of Canada, each citizen has a set of rights, as an individual. These individual rights have been set forth in something called the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  This charter has been designed to provide rights and regulations that protect citizens from arbitrary and/or unreasonable exercises of political power. This might include things like illegal search or unlawful intrusion of privacy (by law enforcement).


The good news is that the Charter will protect you even if you are not familiar with it. However, it is always a good idea to be as familiar with laws like these as you possibly can. Understanding this Charter, though, comes in very handy if you are accused of a crime, and particularly if the police come to arrest you.

Charter Rights in Your Home

Obviously, you have many rights when in your home.  It is the place you keep your family safe, where you go to relax, to sleep, to eat. It is the place where you keep most of the rest of your possessions. It is a sanctuary, a respite; a castle, as they say. And since your house is your castle, you have many rights to privacy. The Charter, for example, says:

  • law enforcement officials are not allowed to enter without special cause to do so
  • you do not have to answer the door even if a police officer is knocking; and you can end any conversation at any time
  • police officers have to ask permission to enter your home (unless they have a warrant)
  • permission to enter your home does not also give permission to search your home
  • police officers are allowed to enter home—even without a warrant—if they have reason to believe there is danger, also known as “probably cause”

Charter Rights in Your Vehicle

Your car is much like your home in that it is a personal “residence” and when you are inside your “residence” the police only have limited abilities.  If you get pulled over by the police, for example, there are only so many things they can do.  The Charter says:

  • they must announce why the pulled you over
  • police are allowed to stop you for the sole purpose of investigating

about registration and licensing (to affirm they are up to date)

  • that does not, however, permit them to search your vehicle without other reasons to do so
  • you never have to allow them to search your car and should ask for a lawyer if they insist