Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants everyone in Canada basic protections while they engage with the legal system and its players. The rights relevant to criminal charges are generally contained in sections 7 to 14 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and encompass various legal rights that are fundamental to the protection of individuals in Canada.
Main sections of Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada are:
Section 7: Right to Life, Liberty, and Security of the Person
Section 7 protects the right to life, liberty, and security of the person. It guarantees that individuals cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or security except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. It also ensures that laws and government actions must not be arbitrary, unfair, or unreasonable.
Section 8: Right to be Secure Against Unreasonable Search and Seizure
Section 8 protects against unreasonable search and seizure by authorities. Section 8 requires that any search or seizure be conducted with proper authorization or reasonable grounds.
Section 9: Right Not to be Unlawfully Detained or Imprisoned
Section 9 guarantees that individuals cannot be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned. This right specifically protects against unlawful detention or imprisonment without valid legal justification.
Section 10: Rights upon Arrest or Detention
Section 10 outlines specific rights that individuals have upon arrest or detention, including the right to be informed of the reasons for arrest or detention, the right to retain and instruct legal counsel immediately and without delay, the right to be informed thereof, and the right to habeas corpus (to challenge the lawfulness of the detention).
Section 11: Rights in Criminal and Penal Matters
Section 11 provides several rights to individuals in criminal and penal proceedings, including the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to a fair and public hearing, the right to be tried within a reasonable time, the right not to be compelled to testify against oneself, and the right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause.
Section 12: Protection Against Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Section 12 prohibits cruel and unusual punishment or treatment. It ensures that punishments must be proportionate to the offence committed.
Section 13: Exemption from Self-Incrimination
Section 13 protects individuals from being compelled to testify against themselves in certain regulatory proceedings where they face the possibility of being charged with an offence.
Section 14: The Right to an Interpreter
In Canada, legal proceedings may take place in English or in French. Section 14 guarantees the right to an interpreter for individuals who are parties or witnesses in any legal proceedings but do not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted. This is most often a right exercised by individuals visiting Canada, new to Canada, or whose native language is otherwise stronger and preferred to one of Canada’s official languages. It also covers individuals who are deaf and require interpretation services.
Remedies for Violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
These sections are vital in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of individuals in Canada and play a crucial role in ensuring a just and fair legal system. If any of these rights are violated, individuals have the right to challenge such actions through the legal process. Often, relief will come from sections 24(1) and/or 24(2) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Section 24(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section 24(1) of the Charter provides individuals with the right to seek remedies when their rights and freedoms, as guaranteed by the Charter, have been violated or infringed upon. This section states:
Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Charter, have been infringed or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances.
Key points to understand about Section 24(1):
Remedy for Charter Violations: When an individual believes that their Charter rights have been violated or denied, they have the right to bring the matter before a court to seek appropriate remedies.
Broad Scope: Section 24(1) is broad in scope and encompasses all Charter rights and freedoms, including those outlined in Sections 2 to 23.
Court Discretion: The court has the discretion to determine the appropriate remedy based on the circumstances of each case. The goal is to provide a just and appropriate remedy for the violation of the individual’s rights.
Section 24(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section 24(2) of the Charter deals with the exclusion of evidence obtained in violation of an individual’s Charter rights. It states:
Where, in proceedings under subsection (1), a court concludes that evidence was obtained in a manner that infringed or denied any rights or freedoms guaranteed by this Charter, the evidence shall be excluded if it is established that, having regard to all the circumstances, the admission of it in the proceedings would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
Key points to understand about Section 24(2):
Exclusion of Evidence: If evidence is obtained in a way that violates an individual’s Charter rights, the court must consider whether the admission of that evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
Balancing Test: The court will conduct a balancing test, taking into account all the circumstances surrounding the violation, the impact on the individual’s rights, and the effect on the integrity of the justice system.
Protecting Charter Rights: Section 24(2) aims to safeguard the integrity of the justice system and ensures that evidence obtained unlawfully is not used to convict individuals, protecting their Charter rights.
These sections play a crucial role in upholding the principles of justice, fairness, and protection of individuals’ rights under the Canadian legal system. They provide an avenue for individuals to seek remedies when their rights are violated and contribute to ensuring a just and equitable legal process.
If you think your legal rights have been violated during an interaction with police or the courts, call an experienced criminal defence lawyer at Cooper Lord Law today to discuss your options.