Most average citizens do not ever expect to have any kind of a brush with the criminal justice system. But things happen. Good people make mistakes. Innocent people get falsely accused.
When you’re in trouble with the law, the team at Merchant Law is here for you. Our team has decades of experience defending people against criminal charges.
Our firm deals with every kind of charge you can think of, including:
- DUI Charges
- Weapons Charges
- Drug Possession
- Drug Trafficking
- White Collar Crime
We are experienced both in provincial court and in the court of Queen’s Bench. We also handle appeals against convictions and sentencing at all appellate court levels. And we urge you to call us the moment you know you’re in trouble: the more time we have to work on your case, the better your outcome is likely to be.
Being Stopped by the Police
The police are only able to stop you in three specific circumstances. They either have probable cause to think you’ve committed a crime, or have actually witnessed you committing that crime. Police may also stop you any time while you are driving.
It’s wise to remain polite and calm when you’ve been stopped. You have the right to ask if you are being arrested or detained. If the answer is “No,” then you may end the encounter at any time. If the answer is “Yes,” then you should immediately stop talking and seek counsel from your Saskatoon criminal defence lawyer.
What to Do When the Police Are At Your Door
Unless the police have a warrant you are not obligated to let them into your home. You also are not obligated to talk to them. You ought not to do either therefore.
If you think they are contacting you as a potential witness it is okay to help, but you should have a lawyer by your side when you do. And you are under no legal duty or obligation to provide any information or cooperation. Often, police approach prime suspects as if they’re mere witnesses first. The suspect is then at his or her ease and ends up revealing more than he or she would have had it been clear they were a suspect.
It is almost always a big mistake to offer any verbal or written statement to the police if you were in any way involved in the matter that the police are investigating. Before you know it, you could yourself be under police investigation. In fact they might already be investigating you and just say they want a witness statement. The best advice is to say nothing to the police and call a lawyer for advice. And rest assured Merchant Law’s Saskatoon criminal defence team is here to help you.
There are very few instances in which the police can enter your home without a warrant. These are called “exigent circumstances.” They include times when the police have reason to believe someone is in immediate danger inside the home, times when you run into your home hoping to evade a lawful arrest, and times when they have good reason to believe you are destroying evidence.
Sometimes, police will try to manufacture exigent circumstances. You should always go over any home entry with your lawyer. If we can prove the police did not enter your home lawfully the evidence they obtained cannot be admitted into court. This may tear their case apart to the point where it no longer makes sense for them to press charges or to proceed any further with any prosecution against you.
What to Do If You’re Arrested
If you are arrested remember the following:
- Stay as calm as you possibly can. Fighting with the police can cause them to levy additional charges. Swearing at police or yelling at them can be used to discredit you in court.
- Avoid giving out any information besides your name, address, and phone number. Do not engage in the interrogation process with police. Police are adept at extracting confessions whether you did the crime or not, and while you think there is no way you would ever do such a thing you’d be surprised what you’re willing to say after being worn down psychologically over the course of eight to eighteen hours. You have the right to remain silent, so exercise it.
- Make it clear you want to call a lawyer. Speak to the police only when your lawyer is present. Follow your lawyer’s advice to the letter.
Being arrested is stressful, disruptive, and humiliating. When you know you’re innocent it’s downright infuriating. Your very human impulse will be to try to convince the police to release you from custody.
Just understand the police have reason to think you’re not innocent. They are not going to let you go just because you make a good enough case. Their job is to investigate. Don’t help them build their evidence against you. Leave them in the dark by saying nothing at all. You will likely get away from them faster also by exercising your legal right of refusing to communicate any information. If the police are detaining somebody who is not providing any information, they are more likely to release the person once they see the questioning is just wasting their time. The police have a job to do. They are not questioning witnesses for amusement. Do not say anything and the police will see they have a dead end with your evidence and leave you alone for that reason.
People still think they will tell the police a story and then they might let you go. They might let you go but you would be better off to say nothing and let them do whatever they can do. Yes they might charge you. But your lawyers will have a better fighting chance to defend you if you keep your mouth shut. If you give a statement they are going to try to investigate your statement and prove that you are a liar. Further more, they might not have all the proof they need for laying charges and pursuing a conviction and your statement might give them some evidence that ruins your chances. For example proving you were somewhere, know someone, or that you possess something, which might be as innocuous sounding as telling the policeman you are a Rider’s fan and have a Rider’s hat. For example if they needed to prove that the culprit had a Rider’s hat on at the time of the offence. It cannot be stressed enough that you should not provide any evidence to the police if you are in any doubt that you might be investigated for a crime.
Whether you are being called in for questioning, have already met with the police and given a statement or not, whether you have already been charged or anticipate it coming, call Merchant Law for help at every step of a criminal prosecution. Our job will be to convince the Crown prosecutor. If we can’t stop the Crown from pressing forward, then we will turn our attention towards winning an acquittal at trial. Sometimes cases get negotiated and settled on the morning of the trial. Sometimes key witnesses fail to attend or other technical defences emerge which can result in acquittals. But these are negotiations before trial between the lawyers. The police are not the ones who make these deals and if they suggest that they will, it is usually a trap and you should call a lawyer first always.
Be patient and provide us with any information we ask for. We are vigorous criminal defenders and know exactly how to use that information to help you.
How to Get Additional Help
Visit Merchant Law at #920-410 22nd Street East, Saskatoon, SK, S7K 5T6, or call (306) 653-7777 with no obligations.