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Criminal law

I'm a youth in BC who's been arrested. What are my rights?December 4, 2022

If you’re a youth (under 18 years old) and you’re arrested, you have the same rights as an adult in BC. This includes the right to speak to a lawyer without delay after you’re arrested. 

The police must:

  • inform you of your right to speak to a lawyer, and 
  • allow you to speak to a lawyer at the first reasonable opportunity after your arrest. 

How soon you can speak to a lawyer will depend on the circumstances of your arrest, including where you are when you’re arrested.

You also have rights under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) that apply before the police can question you or get a statement from you as part of their investigation. You have the right to:

  • speak to a parent, guardian, adult relative, or other appropriate adult that you choose before being questioned by or providing a statement to the police
  • be given a reasonable opportunity for the lawyer and the adult you’ve contacted to be with you when you’re being questioned or making a statement 
  • be told in age-appropriate language that you have the right to speak to a lawyer and a parent or other adult before being questioned by or making a statement to the police
  • be given a reasonable opportunity to contact a lawyer and the adult you’ve chosen to speak to if they can’t be reached immediately, and 
  • be told in age-appropriate language that any lawyer, and any parent or other adult you’ve spoken to after your arrest, must be with you when you’re being questioned or making a statement, unless you don’t want them to be with you 

Speaking to a lawyer

If you have a lawyer or you know the name of a lawyer you want to speak to, you can ask to contact them. Or you can ask the police for a list of lawyers, or you can ask to speak to a free lawyer from Legal Aid BC.

A lawyer will be able to give you legal advice about your situation. They can:

  • give you more information about your rights,
  • help you understand your rights and how to use them, and 
  • explain your next steps.

Anything you say privately to the lawyer is confidential and can’t be used as evidence against you in court.

Speaking to the police

The police must:

  • inform you of your rights, and 
  • make sure those rights are fulfilled, 

before they can question you or try to get a statement from you, even after you’ve spoken to a lawyer. The police must tell you the reason for your arrest, and they’ll most likely ask you if you understand what you’re being arrested for. This isn’t the same as them asking if you committed the crime you’re being arrested for, or if you know the reason they’re arresting you for that crime.

You don’t have to:

  • tell the police whether you agree or disagree with the reason for your arrest or whether you know why you’re being arrested,
  • say anything about the crime being investigated, or
  • answer any questions the police ask you as part of their investigation.

Anything you say to the police without being asked or encouraged, before they’ve had a chance to explain and act on your rights, can be used against you. Anything you decide to tell the police, after they’ve explained and acted on your rights, can be used against you. It’s a good idea to have a lawyer and a parent or other adult with you to help make sure your rights are protected. 

Being questioned by the police
The police can’t question you if:

  • you’ve asked to speak to a lawyer or a parent or other adult, but you haven’t had a chance to speak to them yet, or
  • you’ve contacted a lawyer or a parent or other adult to ask for them to be present with you, but they aren’t with you yet.

The police may try to get a statement from you by asking you questions or by attempting to get you to talk about the crime they believe you committed. They may also want to ask you questions about other topics that will help them investigate you for that crime. You don’t have to say anything to the police at any time. 

Making a statement to the police
A statement includes anything you say to the police. A statement isn’t limited to:

  • a formal statement that’s recorded or written down,
  • a confession or admission of guilt, or
  • comments directly about the suspected crime.

Depending on the investigation, what you say to the police and the information you give them may be used as evidence against you in court or to help their investigation of you. 

Refugee, immigration, and citizenship

I need to file a form with the Immigration and Refugee Board. What about my deadline? How do I file?February 28, 2022

Refugee Protection Division (RPD)

If a claimant made a claim for refugee protection at a port of entry and their claim was referred to the RPD on or after August 29, 2020, the RPD temporarily extends the time limit for the claimant to provide their Basis of Claim (BOC) form by 30 days from the date on which the BOC form would normally be due. Accordingly, the claimant's BOC form will be due 45 days after the day on which their claim was referred to the RPD.

Inland claims are now made using an online portal called the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal (The Portal). You upload documents such as the BOC using this portal (see “I am inside Canada and I want to claim refugee protection. How do I make my claim? [July 8]” below).

Fax the RPD at 604-666-3043.

Email the RPD at RPDWestern-SPRouest@irb-cisr.gc.ca.

For more about submitting documents to the RPD, see their website.

Refugee Appeal Division

Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) notices of appeal are now due 15 days after receiving written reasons from the RPD. Appeals must be perfected within 45 days from receiving the written reasons from the RPD.

Fax the RAD at 604-666-9870.

Email the RAD at IRB.RAD-W-O-SAR.CISR@irb-cisr.gc.ca.

For more about submitting documents to the RAD, see their website.

Immigration Appeal Division

All Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) deadlines have now returned to normal. The IAD is scheduling all hearings virtually unless it is not appropriate for a specific case.

Fax the IAD at 604-666-3043.

Email the IAD at: IRB.IAD-WO-SAI.CISR@irb-cisr.gc.ca.

Immigration Division

For the Immigration Division (ID), detention reviews are being conducted by telephone or video. For non-detained cases, the ID will contact you or your lawyer to schedule a hearing. If you wish to have your hearing by video, please advise the ID when they contact you.

I am inside Canada and I want to claim refugee protection. How do I make my claim?February 28, 2022

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is no longer accepting in-person claims. If you're inside Canada and you'd like to make a refugee claim, you can apply using the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal (The Portal) on the Government of Canada’s website.

Before you can access The Portal, you'll need to answer two questions regarding your location and your eligibility to make a claim. Once you've answered yes to these two questions, scroll down to the link “Option 2: Submit your claim online after you arrive in Canada.” After clicking on this link, you'll be provided with an opportunity to create a portal account. Once you've created an account, login and follow the instructions to complete your application. You have 60 days from the creation of your account to complete your claim. If you wait more than 60 days, the information you've entered will be lost and you'll have to start again.

When the application is complete, IRCC will:

  • send you an Acknowledgment of Claim letter,
  • give you instructions to complete your immigration medical examination, and
  • schedule you for a biometrics interview, and later an eligibility interview.

More information can be found on IRCC’s website.

I’m a refugee who has stopped working because of COVID-19. Can I apply for benefits?February 28, 2022

Yes, if you live in Canada, even temporarily, you may be eligible to receive temporary income support from the federal government. To get more information in your own language about who is eligible and how to apply, see the Government of Canada website.

What services does LABC provide for refugees? February 28, 2022

LABC’s immigration coverage is for people entering Canada, or people who have already entered Canada, who want to make a claim for protection under s. 96 or s. 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). 

Coverage is based on risk to the person if they return to their country of origin.

We fund applications by people living in BC for the following:

  • Refugee status under s. 96 of IRPA (fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion)
  • Protection under s. 97 of IRPA (fear of torture or risk to life, or risk of cruel and unusual punishment or treatment)
  • Permanent resident status on humanitarian compassionate grounds under s. 25 of IRPA for applicants who face unusual, undeserved hardship in their country of origin

We also fund appeals and judicial reviews of Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) decisions.

Will my refugee claim hearing with the IRB go ahead?May 27, 2021

The Refugee Protection Division (RPD) has resumed hearings. You or your lawyer will be contacted to schedule your hearing. Currently, the RPD is asking all claimants to participate in virtual hearings, by video using MS Teams. If you agree to have your hearing by video, there are a number of technical requirements that must be met. The RPD will inform you of these requirements.

My refugee claim was denied. Can I still appeal?May 27, 2021

If you lose your refugee claim, the time to file your notice of appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) is 15 days. The deadline to perfect your appeal has been extended from 30 to 45 days.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is administering a special program to recognize certain refugee claimants who were front-line health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you apply for permanent resident status under this public policy after your refugee claim was rejected, your appeal options and RAD deadlines may be affected. Please see the Immigration and Refugee Board website for more information.

What about proceedings at the Federal Court?June 29, 2020

Please see the Federal Court of Canada website.

Do I still have to follow my CBSA reporting conditions?April 14, 2020

You must continue following your Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reporting conditions, if you have them.