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If you are visiting Canada from another country, chances are you are hoping to see some natural beauty and visit some friendly cities. But what happens when your travel plans turn out unexpectedly and you find yourself arrested while travelling? In this post, we’ll look at what to do if you are incarcerated as a tourist and important rights to keep in mind.


As a tourist, it is important to know the laws of the country you are visiting. Even if they are different from your home country, it is no excuse to break the law. As a traveller, it is essential to do your research and learn about the culture you are visiting and what is considered illegal behaviour.

When you are arrested in Canada, everyone Canadian citizen or not has the same rights. These rights are laid out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When you are arrested, you have:

  • The right to legal counsel and free legal advice in the language that you speak.
  • The right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions that the police ask, but you may be required to provide your name, date of birth and home address.
  • The right to speak with your lawyer in private.

The police also have certain obligations when they arrest you. They must identify themselves as the police with proper identification, they must also inform you that you are being placed under arrest and the reason or reasons why. They should also inform you of your right to legal counsel and provide access to Legal Aid. These rights are the same for anyone arrested in Canada.


If you are a citizen of another country there are some things that you should do if you find yourself detained abroad.

Cooperate with Police: The first is to cooperate with the authorities. You don’t want to find yourself facing additional charges of intent to resist arrest or obstructing the police. But there is a distinction between cooperating with police and still enforcing your right to remain silent.

Call Your Embassy: As a tourist arrested, the first thing you should do is call your embassy or local consulate or ask the police to contact them. The embassy won’t be able to get the charges dropped, or fight them for you, but they can get you in contact with a lawyer that speaks your language and ensure you are being treated fairly and understand your rights.

If you are a U.S. citizen your embassy can also help you get in contact with your friends and family that might be able to help you, visit you in prison and provide reading materials and vitamin supplements and ensure the prison authorities are providing adequate medical care. If you request it they can also provide a general overview of the criminal justice process and ensure that the prison allows visits from the clergy of your religion.


If you are a tourist arrested by Canadian police, you need an experienced criminal lawyer by your side who understands Canadian Law and can help you get the best possible outcome for your case. It is best to hire a lawyer as soon as possible who understands the complexities of your case and has experience defending cases like yours. Do not try and negotiate or try to handle the case on your own.

William Jaksa is an experienced criminal lawyer in Toronto who has been successfully defending clients for over a decade. If you or a family member has been arrested while travelling in Canada, contact William Jaksa today for a consultation on your case. He understands Canadian law and can help you navigate your case through the Canadian justice system.

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