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The Right to Counsel in Criminal Law Cases

Criminal law disallows harmful or undesirable conduct, and it sets out the process involved in responding to crime. Criminal Code offences include assault, impaired driving (including driving under the influence or DUI), break and enter, robbery, uttering threats and failure to comply with bail and/or probation and, in each situation, you have a right to counsel. 


If you are arrested, you have a right to speak to a lawyer of your choice. Free duty counsel (also known as Crown counsel) is available to you if you are unable to reach your lawyer or if you choose to speak to that counsel instead. You don’t need to qualify for this help based on income level or reason for arrest. Duty counsel is an independent lawyer provided and paid for by the government to assist only at that particular movement in your case; this lawyer does not represent the police, government or victim(s) of crime and rather performs on behalf of the public. 

Access to Counsel

There should be no reason to hold back from speaking to duty counsel or your own lawyer in private, as such communication is expected standard procedure. No one is going to think that you are guilty or have something to hide by exercising your right to counsel. In fact, if police fail to offer you access to counsel, it may be problematic for them in your case as the right to counsel is a statutory right. Innocent or guilty, you need legal advice to protect your rights, and make informed decisions about your case.


Duty counsel will advise you on what information you should give to police, such as your name, address and date of birth, and any other required information. For example, if you are the driver or registered owner of a motor vehicle, you must give information in certain circumstances (e.g., a statement regarding a collision if you were involved in one). Also, if you were participating in a regulated activity (e.g., as a hunter) then you are required to provide certain information to investigators or regulators about where you were or what you were doing. If there is anything you are unsure about with respect to what information you must provide, consult with duty counsel. 

Aside from complying with requirements, you have no obligation to assist in a criminal investigation in any way. You have the right to remain silent. Your charter rights must be read to you. You will be told by police that the purpose of a video conference/interview is to investigate the situation. However, you are not obliged to give a statement. You must anticipate that anything you say can be held against you.

Hiring a Defence Lawyer

If you have been charged with an offence, call us at Donnell Law Group. If you have been detained, we will arrange to come meet you. You will want hire the best defense lawyer that you can afford. Once you contact us and convey what happened, we can advise you on your situation and arrange to be retained. Talking to your own lawyer privately is the best time to tell your side of the story; keeping to yourself with police protects you from inadvertent incrimination. Donnell Law Group has experienced counsel in criminal matters, who will fight to protect you and your rights. We provide service in Richmond Hill, York region, Simcoe County, the GTA and all of Southern Ontario. Call us at Donnell Law Group at 1-888-307-9991 or 905-476-9100.


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