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Common Questions

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

Last reviewed in March 2018 by the Clicklaw Editors

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.
  • Know Your Rights When Speaking to Police, from Pivot Legal, has information about your legal rights and what you can say when you are stopped by the police against your will.
  • When Battered Women are Arrested, from BWSS, tells you what to do if you are a woman arrested in a domestic violence situaton.
  • Young People and Criminal Law, from People's Law School, tells you about the rights of young people (12 - 18 years old) if arrested or if charged with an offence.
  • Guide to the Law of Protests in British Columbia, from McGrady & Company, explains your rights when dealing with the police at public demonstrations and what to do when you are arrested or detained.

Need more help?

See our related common questions:

arrest, police, rights on arrest, after arrest, charged with a crime