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What are my rights when talking to the police?

Reviewed by
Nov 3, 2021

Police are responsible for helping to keep our communities safe and they may require your assistance to do that. In most cases, if you are stopped and questioned by the police, you do not have to answer their questions, but it is a good idea to be polite. You do not have to tell them your name nor provide identification, if you were not driving when you were stopped. You have the right to remain silent.

When talking to police, the key point is do they suspect you of committing a crime. If you are suspected of a crime, police have more rights, but you always have the right to remain silent. If you are not suspected of a crime and you are not driving, then your participation in the exchange is voluntary. You are free to go. If police choose to detain you, they must provide a reason for suspecting you of a crime.

If you are riding a bike and the police think you have broken a traffic law, then you must give them your name and address. If you refuse, they can arrest you. If you are in a car and the police flash their lights, you must safely pull over to the right side of the road. You will need to tell the police your name and address; say whose car it is; and, show your driver’s licence, registration and insurance papers. Do not offer the police money – it is a serious crime to bribe a police officer.

If the police come to your house and ask to enter, you do not have to give your consent. Police have the right to enter your home without your consent when:

  • They have a warrant (from a judge allowing them to enter)
  • They are chasing someone and they think that person is in your house
  • They have a reason to believe that someone in the home is in danger
  • They think there is a serious crime happening in your home

If you are being arrested by the police, the police officer must state their name and why they are arresting you. You have a right to a lawyer and do not have to answer any questions the police officer asks you. In fact, it is in your interests not to answer police questions. The police officer has to let you call a lawyer right away. If you want to speak to your lawyer in private, the police officer has to let you. Within 24 hours, the police have to take you to court or let you go.