What happens if I get arrested?

Getting arrested can affect your immigration status. Know what police can do, what your rights are, and what to do to minimize consequences.

When can I be arrested?

  • If the police have a warrant for your arrest; and
  • If the police think you:
    • (a) have broken the law (committed an offense)
    • (b) are breaking the law
    • (c) are about to break the law

If you are not sure whether or not you're under arrest when a police stops you, always ask if you are under arrest and for what crime.

What happens when I'm arrested?

If are are arrested, you may be taken to a police station and charged, given a warning, or released within 24 hours of your arrest. You might also be given a notice to appear in court.

You do not have to go to a police station if you are not under arrest.

Know your rights

If you are arrested, you must give your real name, age, and address, and you have a right to get a lawyer (AND parent if you are under 18-years-old). Remember that if you don't identify yourself, the police can hold you until they find out who you are.

If you are arrested, the police must:

  • Tell you who they are (and show ID)
  • Not harm you, but can touch you
  • Tell you that you are under arrest, and explain why
  • Tell you your rights
  • Notify your parents (if you are under 18-years old)

You have the right to:

  • Know why you are being arrested
  • Have a lawyer (if you make a statement, and if you are questioned)
  • Have an interpreter
  • Remain silent after letting them know your age, name, and address, until your lawyer and/or your guardians get there.

What happens to my immigration status?

Your immigration status can be badly affected if you are charged with a crime. You may lose your immigration/refugee status, be forced to leave Canada, and your family members who are not citizens may be forced to leave Canada.

The following crimes can affect your immigration status:

  • Driving drunk
  • Stealing (including small shoplifting)
  • Assault
  • Drug-related crimes
  • All other major crimes such as murder, breaking and entering, etc.

What should I do if I get arrested?

Contact a lawyer immediately, get help appealing any decision about your charge, or try to get a Pardon from the government. For more info on what happens to your immigration status if you get arrested or charged with a crime, check out these resources:

This is not legal advice. If you need formal advice on the law, or feel you have been treated unfairly or illegally, find a lawyer or get help from Legal Aid Ontario.