In Canada a person accused of a criminal offence has the right to remain silent. This maxim is unfortunately, all too often ignored. Instead, many clients attempt to portray themselves in a more positive light, and decide to make a statement. The police however, are professionally trained interviewers. More often than not, the accused ends up providing the lynchpin to their own conviction. As an Ottawa criminal lawyer, I have seen this far too many times. Unbeknownst to most accuseds, at the interview stage, the Police are able to withhold evidence and to embellish the strength of their case. This is legally condoned, all with a view to getting you to make a statement and facilitate conviction. So long as you were given your rights to consult counsel, this statement is most likely admissible against you.
The reality of the situation is that before you go into a police interview, you are blind. You dont know what the Police have; the smallest admission may end up being the seminal piece of evidence against you. Ive seen it many times. The accused identifies himself in a picture that was otherwise useless; the accused admits that they knew the accomplice, when in fact no connection had yet been made; there are countless variations of the same theme. Contacting an Ottawa criminal lawyer before you meet with the police is the most important step. Once youre at the station, the Police will allow you to contact a lawyer by telephone. This typically results in an 8 to 10 minute telephone conversation with a lawyer, who will give you the basic advice: dont make a statement. Unfortunately, this perfunctory level of legal advice is insufficient to give the accused the context of what a police interview entails, and how the police will construct their interrogation. Indeed, there are cases where making a statement can benefit the accused, they are however, rare. Once a statement is made, it is difficult to resile from it. Your defence lawyer is left arguing voluntariness, or attempting to invoke section 10(b) of the Charter with a goal of having the evidence excluded. Neither of those are substitutes for an accuseds silence.