The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enacted in 1982 and is a central portion of Canada’s Constitution.
As many of the Charter‘s provisions concern legal rights and key safeguards, it is the part of the Constitution which most affects Canadians who are charged with criminal or quasi-criminal offences.
The following sections of the Charter are of particular interest when defending criminal and regulatory cases:
Life, liberty and security of person
7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
Search or seizure
8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
Detention or imprisonment
9. Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.
Arrest or detention
10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention
(a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;
(b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
(c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.
Proceedings in criminal and penal matters
11. Any person charged with an offence has the right
(a) to be informed without unreasonable delay of the specific offence;
(b) to be tried within a reasonable time;
(c) not to be compelled to be a witness in proceedings against that person in respect of the offence;
(d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;
(e) not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause;
(f) except in the case of an offence under military law tried before a military tribunal, to the benefit of trial by jury where the maximum punishment for the offence is imprisonment for five years or a more severe punishment;
(g) not to be found guilty on account of any act or omission unless, at the time of the act or omission, it constituted an offence under Canadian or international law or was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations;
(h) if finally acquitted of the offence, not to be tried for it again and, if finally found guilty and punished for the offence, not to be tried or punished for it again; and
(i) if found guilty of the offence and if the punishment for the offence has been varied between the time of commission and the time of sentencing, to the benefit of the lesser punishment.
Treatment or punishment
12. Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
The full text of the Charter can be found at the Justice Canada website here.