The Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Section 9

Section 9 of the Charter reads: “Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.”

This right guarantees against being arbitrarily detained or imprisoned by the state. This right applies not only to physical detention, but also investigative detention.  It frequently arises in drug cases.

Detention requires there to be either a physical restraint, such as handcuffs, or a psychological restraint, such as a police officer questioning you and you not be able to walk away. Physical detentions are easy to identify, but psychological ones are a bit more difficult. They are established where the individual has a legal obligation to comply with a police officer’s request or demand, and a reasonable person would believe that the individual had no choice but to comply.

The police can detain you as long as that detention is not arbitrary, which has been defined, by the Supreme Court, as there being “no express or implied criteria which govern its exercise.” This usually requires the police to have been acting outside of their legal mandate.

Section 9 is often not argued on its own, but rather in conjunction with an alleged section 8 or 10 breach.


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