Over the years, I have noticed that there are several personality types that emerge once they are arrested or detained by police. Firstly, there is the stoic, who will say nothing no matter what. This person usually has had dealing with the police and is aware of their rights and is prone to ask more questions and volunteer very little information. They can be difficult to deal with, but are excellent witnesses when in a courtroom.
The second personality type is the individual who once detained is unable to think. Their brains shut down; they are open to suggestion and are prone to make admissions and apologize for things they had no responsibility for. An example is a client, who I defended for a very serious assault. When being interrogated by the police, he was asked how he felt about the alleged incident. He stated to the police that he was sorry. When I interviewed him and asked why would he say such a thing? He stated he felt sorry for the victim since he has a child of his own and that he would not want anything like the alleged assault to happen to his child. Of course, when reading the transcripts of his interrogation, it seems like he was saying he was sorry because he committed the offence. The client later admitted that while he was in police custody, he was scared, confused, and “his brain was not working”.
The third personality type is the gregarious chatter-box. This person feels he can talk him/herself out of the situation. They are extremely co-operative, volunteering information even when not specifically asked for same. They are likely to implicate themselves and others. This personality type is an investigator’s dream and a lawyer’s worse nightmare.
Of course the proceedings are generalization and may not adequately describe everybody. If you are arrested – remain calm, try to think and remember you have certain rights which are guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. Try to remember that a person arrested or detained must be advised by the police of the reason for the arrest or detainment. Furthermore, the police must inform the detained person of his/her rights to retain and instruct a lawyer without delay. Once you are advised of these rights and you request the opportunity to do so without delay, the police must cease questioning you, and refrain from attempting to elicit evidence from you until you have had an opportunity to retain and instruct a lawyer.
It should be noted that the Courts have indicated that the right to speak to a lawyer is not unlimited. In most instances you would only be able to make one (1) phone call to a lawyer. Therefore, try not to panic. Find out why you are detained/arrested, ask some questions of your own and make the call, bearing in mind that it may be your only opportunity to speak to a lawyer.
If you are ever arrested and/or detained and you cannot remember all of the specifics above, then a good and easy axiom to remember is “shut up and lawyer up”.
Selwyn R. Baboolal is a partner at Oumarally Baboolal practicing in the area of litigation for the past 20 years.
The foregoing is intended for information purposes only and you should consult a lawyer if you need legal representation or a legal opinion.
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