If your Charter Rights have been breached, it could have an impact on the way in which the criminal case against you proceeds.
What are my Charter Rights?
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a set of laws contained within the Canadian Constitution. Often shortened to ‘Charter Rights’, they outline the rights and freedoms that are necessary for a free and democratic society.
In practical terms, this means that every Canadian is protected under supreme law to a range of rights and freedoms. These are broad in scope, and include fundamental freedoms, democratic rights, mobility rights, legal rights, equality rights and language rights.
If any person, organization or law violates these Charter Rights, then you are entitled to seek a remedy for this breach. The remedy will differ according to the circumstances, but might involve compensation, a re-trial or having a piece of evidence struck out.
Have your legal rights been violated?
As criminal defence lawyers, we often speak to people whose legal rights have been violated. Briefly, according to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, you have the right to –
- Life, liberty and security of the person
- Be free from unreasonable search or seizure
- Not be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned
- Be informed promptly of the reasons for your arrest or detention
- Have a lawyer when arrested
- A fair and public trial within a reasonable time
- Not give evidence against yourself
- Be presumed innocent
- Be free from cruel and unusual punishment
- Be granted reasonable bail if appropriate
- A court-appointed interpreter, if needed
If any of your Charter Rights have been breached, it could have a bearing on any criminal charges you are currently facing. For instance, the police may have searched your property and seized stolen goods, resulting in you being arrested for theft. But if this search was not reasonable, then any evidence that was seized cannot be used by the prosecution. This could ultimately lead to the case collapsing.
How a Vancouver Charter Rights lawyer can help
It can be difficult to understand whether or not your Charter Rights have been breached. That is where a Vancouver criminal lawyer can help you.
A lawyer can investigate your case and establish whether the police, or anyone else, violated your Charter Rights. If so, your lawyer can seek the appropriate remedy. This will depend on the circumstances. If you are facing criminal charges, it will typically involve making an application to have a particular piece of evidence excluded, on account of the fact it has been unlawfully obtained. Alternatively, there may be grounds to pursue compensation for the damages you have incurred, or to request a re-trial.
Whatever the case, it is important to establish whether your Charter Rights have been breached, as it could have a profound impact on the criminal proceedings against you.