Common Questions

What are my rights after arrest, and what might happen after?

An arrest is the first stage of a criminal case. A police arrest report is sent to a Crown counsel, whose job it is to decide whether the person arrested will be charged with a criminal offence. If a person is charged, the case will then proceed to a first appearance in front of a judge. The charged person may plead guilty or not guilty, and the judge will decide what will happen next. Options can include diversion (alternative measures), a stay of proceedings, or a full trial.

Good starting points include:
  • BCCLA Arrest Handbook, from the BC Civil Liberties Association, describes your rights if you are arrested. It provides detailed information about how you can expect the police to act, and how you can respond if you feel the police do not act properly.
  • If You Are Charged with a Crime, from the Legal Services Society, describes the court process and what the options are. It also outlines your legal rights, what a lawyer can do, how to find a lawyer, and how to get legal aid or other legal help.
  • Statement for Police Rights Card, from Pivot Legal, has information about your legal rights and what you can say to police.

See our related common questions:

Last reviewed January 2015

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