With increased policing beginingn to occur, we reccomend those that come into contact with law enforcement to follow the reccomendations presented below as provided by the Black Legal Action Center in Toronto.
A more thorough resource outlining your rights can be accessed HERE.
What if an officer approaches me in a park or a public square for breaking an emergency rule?
You may ask the officer to verify the offence that you are being charged with. If the offence you are charged with is NOT related to the COVID-19 emergency rules, you don’t have to stop and answer the officer’s questions, unless they have arrested you or detained you. Even then, you have a right to remain silent, a right to be told what is happening, and a right to speak to a lawyer.
What if an officer asks me to identify myself? Are there any consequences for refusing to do so?
You should be cooperative. The emergency rules require any person charged with violating an emergency order to identify themselves (name, date of birth, address) to officers . If the officer has reasonable and probable grounds to believe you have committed an offence under the emergency rules (e.g. because you are playing in a park) and you refuse to identify yourself or lie, you may be fined $750.00 or $1,000.00 for obstruction of justice.
Can I be charged with more than one offence?
If you’re caught breaking the emergency rules, the police can charge you with one or more offences under the Provincial Offences Act. For example, you can be charged for not identifying yourself and for not following an emergency order.
Where do I challenge the fine/charge against me?
If you identify as Black or African-Canadian, please contact BLAC if you’ve received a fine/charge under the emergency order. Your provincial offence court hearing will take place at the Ontario Court of Justice after the state of emergency ends. If you’re found guilty, a Justice of the Peace will decide your sentence.
Does this offence show up on my criminal record?
Although provincial offences may not show up on your criminal record, the penalties could be substantial, including imprisonment.
Key things to remember during police encounters:
- If you are detained or arrested by the police, they must inform you that you can speak with a lawyer and must provide you with an opportunity to do so.
- If you do not have a lawyer, the police are obligated to tell you that free legal advice is available through legal aid and must give you the phone number to reach a legal aid lawyer.
- It may be a good idea to not answer questions from the police until you have spoken with a lawyer.
- Anything you say to the police can be used as evidence in court.
- In most cases, the police can only search you if you have been placed under arrest or if you have consented to the search. However, there are exceptions to this.
- If you believe that you have been wrongly searched, tell the police that you object to the search, and speak to a lawyer afterwards about your concerns.