Critics of Canadian criminal law sometimes complain about people getting off on a “technicality.” Usually the so-called “technicality” is that the police violated an accused person’s Charter rights. The prosecution often can’t use evidence that was gained that way. As a result the prosecution’s case falls apart. No surprise then, that your average person may think the Charter mostly protects criminals.
But what is the Charter, and what does it stand for?
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a guarantee that everyone in Canada has certain rights when dealing with the government. It’s such an important guarantee that it’s part of the Canadian constitution.
Basically, Charter rights are aimed at ensuring that we receive fair treatment at the hands of the government. Things like the right to call a lawyer upon being arrested by the police, or to expect that they won’t show up to search your home without a warrant.
Sounds reasonable, right?
I’ll bet that if you happened to be the one whose rights were violated you’d want to make sure someone was held accountable. That’s what the Charter does. It’s the legal means by which individuals like you and me can hold the government accountable for the rights we all enjoy.
Sure, when a judge tosses evidence in a criminal case because police violated rights of an accused it may mean a guilty person gets acquitted. But that’s only part of the picture. What most people don’t realize is that when judges uphold the constitution they’re protecting us all. It’s called the rule of law – that the law applies to everyone, including the police – and it’s one of the reasons we live in such a great country.
So talk to a criminal defence lawyer
You need an experienced, knowledgeable and skilled criminal defence lawyer in your corner when your liberty is at stake. Someone who isn’t afraid to hold the government accountable. Guilty or not, you need to have your rights protected and defended. It protects you. It protects us all.