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)
- 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:
- Criminal Charges in Canada and Your Immigration Status (available in English and 6 other languages)
- Legal Help Information for Immigrants and Refugees
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.