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Tom Rees | Criminal Defence Lawyer Winnipeg

Should I make a statement to Police?

You have the right to remain silent.

We’ve all heard the phrase in movies and on TV. As it turns out, you actually do have a right to remain silent. In practical terms, it means that a judge won’t hold it against you if you refuse to answer police questions when you are arrested.

If you are arrested by police, you should not answer their questions beyond confirming your identity. Anything that you tell them can be used against you in court later. Usually, police officers take notes about their activities to help them remember what occurred when they are testifying in court. If you tell them anything, they will write it down and repeat it in court if it helps their case.

If you have been charged and are being questioned by the police, be polite and tell them that you want to speak to a lawyer. The police will generally allow you to call a lawyer before they start questioning you. Listen carefully to that lawyer and follow their advice.

The normal advice for a person in police custody:

  • Do not make a statement. Tell the police politely, “sorry, my lawyer told me not to say anything.”
    • Remember that the police may be video taping the statement for use in court later. Be polite and calm, but refuse to answer the questions. The judge won’t hold it against you.
  • If you are released, you normally are given paperwork that includes a court date in the future.
    • The normal release papers are:
      • Promise to Appear
      • Undertaking with Conditions
    • Take note of the court date. Either you or a lawyer on your behalf must attend court on that date or a warrant could issue for your arrest.
    • You may have conditions you have to follow. Make sure to read your release papers carefully.
  • If you are being held in custody until a bail hearing, make sure a lawyer assists you with your bail.
    • Do not attempt to complete your own bail application. You only get one chance to ask the court for bail, and if you are denied, you may be stuck in custody until your trial or disposition.
    • You will have a chance to apply for bail with a Magistrate but without a lawyer. Tell the Magistrate you want to wait to have a lawyer assist you. If you apply for bail and are denied, you may have to remain in custody until your trial.

The general rule is that you should not make a statement to police. If you’ve been arrested, you should speak to a lawyer at that time and follow their advice. Tom Rees & Company has a 24-hour on-call lawyer available to talk to people who have been arrested by police. Call 204.415.5544 ext. 9, to speak to our on-call lawyer.


*Note: The information on this page if for general knowledge and is not legal advice.