In an age where more and more of what we do is recorded (either in an email, a phone call, or on video), it is important for you to understand, that you still have a right to remain silent. If the Police knock on your door to ask you a few questions, you do not need to speak to them. You do not need to go to the police station for an interview if you are asked, and you certainly do not have to provide police a bodily sample to exclude yourself as a suspect. Even if you are charged with a Criminal Offence, you are under no obligation to speak to police. If police want your DNA, they are required to obtain a DNA Warrant, signed by a judge or justice, compelling you to give a sample.
Recently in southern Ontario, a pregnant woman was tragically murdered. The culprit attempted to cover up the murder by starting a fire, however, an autopsy shows the woman died as a result of blood loss before the fire started, and not from fire related injuries. After seven weeks of investigating and coming up with little evidence or suspects, police are now going door to door in the neighbourhood where the murder took place, asking neighbours for blood samples with zero evidence that they had anything to do with the murder. Police are saying that providing a blood sample would rule them out as suspects.
There are two main issues here: Firstly, there is no guarantee that providing a sample of your blood on its own would rule you out as a suspect. In 2004, a similar investigation took place, where police were coming up empty handed and went door to door trying to solve the sexual assault and murder of a 13 year old girl. A British Columbia man named George Roswell Osmond told police he had nothing to hide, provided them with his DNA and was ultimately charged and convicted of sexual assault and murder. The police had nothing else to go on.
Secondly, If you refuse to provide a sample of your blood or DNA (as is well within your rights so long as the police do not have a warrant), in a situation similar to the one above, you will likely be added to a persons of interest list by the police. Once you are on that list, the police are essentially trying to build a case against you and trying to find evidence to suggest you may have been involved in an incident.
Both the general public and police departments are finding themselves in tricky situations. The police want to solve these crimes at all costs. The public wants these crimes solved as well, however, they still want to maintain their privacy and may not be interested in subjecting themselves to being poked, prodded and having bodily fluids taken from them with no idea of where its going, where its being stored, by whom, for how long, and for what purpose.
In these types of situations, it is always beneficial to speak to an experienced Criminal Lawyer with experience with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
David Dubinsky and Johnny de Bakker practice in these areas, if you find yourself in a situation similar to the ones described above, please contact us today.
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