The fundamental rights enjoyed of all Canadian’s and all those within Canadian borders are contained in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which forms of a part of the Canadian Constitution. The Charter contains democratic rights, mobility rights, legal rights, equality rights, and rights that are considered fundamental freedoms. The Charter also outlines the official languages of Canada as well as minority language educational rights. Finally, the Charter provides guidance on enforcement of the Charter, the application of the Charter, and other miscellaneous rights such as those pertaining to Aboriginal Canadians.
The rights contained in the Charter are absolute but are subject to reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society, as outlined in section 1 of the Charter. This means that an individual’s Charter right may be infringed upon where doing so is in the best interest of the public. When making this determination, courts will weigh the right of the individual with the prejudice to society that may result from the individual exercising their right. If the prejudice to society is too great, the individual’s right may be reasonably limited.
The Charter rights relevant to criminal proceedings including the following rights.
Arrest and Pretrial
- Informed without delay of the charge
- Informed of the reason for arrest
- Not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned
- Not to be denied reasonable bail
- Right to counsel
- Tried within a reasonable time
- Protection from cruel punishment
- Benefits to the lesser punishment
- Innocent until proven guilty
- Validity of detention determined
- Protection for life and liberty
- Protection against unreasonable search