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An arrested person has rights

Published: 
Monday, March 18, 2013
Law Made Simple

A person may be arrested by the police:
• before he or she is charged
• after he or she has been charged with an offence

 

Under the Constitution, every person who is arrested or detained has certain rights. These include the right to:
• be informed promptly of the reason for his arrest or detention
• remain silent/not incriminate himself
• the right to retain and instruct without delay a legal adviser
• the right to be brought promptly before a court
• the right to the remedy of habeas corpus

 

Further, if you are charged with a criminal offence, you have the right to:
• be presumed innocent until proven guilty
• a fair and impartial public hearing before an independent tribunal
• reasonable bail without just cause

 

 

Reason
The police must inform you of the reason for your arrest at the time of arrest or as soon as possible after arrest. The police must give you enough details of the reason for your arrest so it is clear to you.

 

 

Silence
You have the right to remain silent. The police must tell you of this right. You do not have to give a statement to the police if you do not want to. This includes both oral and written statements. You have the right to ask the police to speak to a relative, friend or to your attorney.

 

 

Attorney
You have the right to speak with an attorney-at-law to get advice on any on any matter relating to your arrest or charge. You also have the right to retain an attorney to defend you. A defendant should be allowed the earliest opportunity to retain a lawyer to act on his or her behalf to prevent him or her from saying or doing anything against his or her interest.

 

 

Magistrate
You have the right to be brought before a magistrate or justice of the peace as soon as possible after you are charged.

 

 

Bail/Reasonable bail
If the offence is one for which bail may be granted, you have the right to make an application for bail before the magistrate or justice of the peace. You have the right to reasonable bail for bailable offences and the right not to be refused bail without there being a good reason.

 

 

Habeas corpus
If you are detained, you have the right to make an application for habeas corpus to decide if your detention is valid or lawful. Habeas corpus requires that those who detain you must justify to a Judge why you are being detained.

 

 

Innocent
You have the right to be presumed innocent until the police or prosecution prove you guilty. The police or prosecution must do so beyond reasonable doubt. In a few limited cases the burden of proving an issue may shift to you. When this happens the burden is a lesser standard, that is, on a balance of probabilities.

 

 

Fair trial
You have the right to a fair hearing before an independent court or tribunal. 

 

(This column is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should consult a legal adviser.)

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