Not everyone charged with a crime is arrested. The timing of the arrest may depend on the situation and crime(s) committed. If a police officer sees you commit a crime, they may arrest you on the spot. In other situations, a police investigation may occur before you are arrested.

Rights at the Time of Arrest

An arrest happens when police take a person into custody and tell the person they are being charged with a crime. While it is important to co-operate with police in this situation, it is also important to know your legal rights. Legal rights at the time of arrest include:

  • The right to remain silent (your only obligation is to give your name)
  • The right to request an interpreter
  • The right to talk with a lawyer, including the right to talk with your own lawyer if you choose (even if you are provided one by your parents or another adult)
  • The right to talk with a parent or, if a parent is not available, to talk to an adult relative or any other appropriate adult

Police Responsibilities

  • You do not have to make a statement to the police
  • Any statement you do make must be made in the presence of your lawyer, parent or other adult unless you want to give a statement without them
  • Anything you do say could be used as evidence against you
  • You have the right to consult with a lawyer and a parent or other adult of your choice before saying anything

If you choose not to talk to a lawyer, a parent or other appropriate adult before or during the time you talk to police about the alleged crime, the police must record this by video or audiotape or in writing.

The police must also tell you what crime you are being charged with and the place and time of any court appearance you must attend.

Right to a Lawyer

The right to a lawyer has special recognition and protection in the Youth Criminal Justice Act. When you are a child or youth, police, Crown and judges must ensure you are told and understand you have a right to talk to a lawyer. This information must be provided at many stages in the youth justice process. See Right to a Lawyer for more information.

What Happens Next

If you have been arrested by police, you may either be released or held in custody until you appear in court. 

If you are held in custody, you may be kept in a youth custody centre or a local police jail. If you are being held in custody, you will be brought to court to apply for release. This is referred to as judicial interim release or bail.