The first few days after you get arrested can be a very confusing time. You're dealing with the RCMP, lawyers, judges, and maybe even staff at a jail. You may not understand what's happening, or why you're going to certain places. This page will help you to understand the things that happen when you are arrested.
When you are arrested
Go with the police: do not fight them or run away. The police can arrest you if they have a legal form called an arrest warrant. If a judge has signed this form, the police can arrest you by showing it to you or telling you about it. They need to tell you why they are arresting you and make sure that you understand them. They can touch you, but not hurt you.
The police can arrest you without a warrant if you have committed - or if they believe you will commit - a serious crime. For less serious crimes, the police can arrest you without a warrant if they see you commit the crime and need to find out who you are, stop you from committing the crime, keep you from destroying evidence, or make sure you will go to court.
Tell the RCMP that you want to call a lawyer. They have to help you call a lawyer who can tell you if you should talk to the police and can help you get released. You have a right to talk to a lawyer, and you can talk to the lawyer in private.
Never lie to the police. You do not have to talk to the police at all, except to tell them your name. You do not have to answer their questions or give any statements. Anything you say can be used in court against you, so it's important to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police.
If you have children, a social worker may decide to have a relative look after them if it is not safe for them to stay in your house. The social worker's job is to make sure that your children are safe - you will receive papers letting you know if they decide your children should be taken into care.
If you can't go to work because you are in jail, make sure your boss knows you won't be at work. Tell your boss what happened, and ask if you can talk about it in a few days when you know more about what is going on.
Release from police custody
In many situations the police will charge and then release you on a promise to appear or an undertaking, which may have certain conditions for you to follow.
If the police give you papers that say you have to go to court at a certain time, you have to go. If you don't go to court at that time, you can be charged with a crime called failing to appear, and you can be arrested and put in jail until your trial.
If the police do not agree to release you, they have to arrange for a court appearance called a show cause hearing as soon as possible. Legal aid will provide a lawyer at no cost to assist you with the show cause hearing. At a show cause hearing, the police and Crown prosecutor will tell the judge why they think releasing you may not be a good idea. For example if you have hurt someone, they may be concerned that it is not safe to release you straight away. If the judge decides you should stay in custody, the police will usually bring you to one of the NWT's correctional centres.
If the judge agrees to release you, there will be conditions set for you to be allowed out of jail. For example, you may have to agree to stay away from a certain person, you may have to live in a certain place or you may have to pay money or bail to the court.