The Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms What are our legal rights in Canada?
Legal Rights (ss. 7 to 14) • Under ss. 7 to 14 of the Charter, Canadians are guaranteed legal rights at all stages of the criminal justice process.
S. 7: Life, Liberty and Security of the Person • Courts have wrestled w/ meaning of “security of the person” • Tech advances have led to the unrestricted access to information; issue of personal security • Courts face challenge of balancing rights of the ind’l & rights of the majority to public health & safety. Landmark Cases: R. v. Morgentaler, R. v. Latimer, Rodriguez v. British Columbia
S. 8: Unreasonable Search + Seizure • Police cannot randomly search people for the purpose of seeing if they possess something • Often involves drug- related cases; if obtained unlawfully S.24 of Charter can be used to exclude it as evidence. • Police need a good reason for searching the person, the homes or belongings of an accused.
S. 9: Arbitrary Detention or Imprisonment • Guarantees freedoms from meaningless and unfair arrest + jail sentence R. v. Hufsky (1988) • Failed breathalyser test in random spot check • Not considered a violation of section 9 b/c it was deemed a reasonable limit for the purpose of highway safety by the S.C.C. • Police officers cannot use pretext of “random spot check” to search your vehicle for evidence.
S. 10 Arrest or Detention If arrested, you are entitled to be: • Informed of the reasons for your arrest • Informed of your right to a lawyer • Informed of legal aid services • Once you have requested a lawyer, the police may not continue questioning you until you get one.
S. 11 Proceedings in Criminal + Penal Matters • Protects anyone charged with an offence under Federal or Provincial law: • Must be told what offense you’re charged with • Must be given a trial in a reasonable time • Giving testimony is optional • Bail cannot be denied w/out just cause • If the law changes before you are sentenced you must be given the more lenient sentence. • Double Jeopardy: -Cannot be punished for the same offense twice
S. 12 Cruel & Unusual Punishment • Punishment should fit the crime and not be cruel or unusual • When determining a sentence, courts must consider: • The gravity of the offence • The personal characteristics of the offender • The particular circumstances of the case • Corporal Punishment was legal in Canada until 1972 • Capital Punishment was legal in Canada until 1976 • Conveys that the law often reflects our social conscience + attitudes toward punishment
S. 13 and S. 14: Rights of Witnesses in Court S.13 Witness Rights (Self-Incrimination) • A witness who testifies cannot have any incriminating evidence (included in their testimony) be used to incriminate them in subsequent proceeding. • Exception: If it can be proven that a witness committed perjury or gave contradictory evidence. S.14 Right to an Interpreter • Offered to those who do not understand or speak the language or who are death.