Anyone can be questioned by the police. Do you have to answer all their questions? When do you have to give them your name? What happens if you lie? This article explains what to do if the police question you.
General rule: You do not have to answer the police’s questions.
The police can ask you questions, whether you are on the street, in a park or elsewhere. But you do not have to answer them.
The police might want to talk or meet with you if you saw something happen or have information about a crime. The decision is yours. You can answer their questions, but you do not have to.
Important! Right to Remain Silent
If you are detained or arrested by the police, you have the right to remain silent. Remember that anything you say to the police can be used against you in court. For more information, see our article Your Rights When Arrested or Detained.
Important! Sometimes You Must Identify Yourself
In some situations, you have to identify yourself to the police by giving your name, address and sometimes your date of birth, even if you decide not to answer their questions.
Lying is a crime.
You may be tempted to give a false name to the police or make up a story to hide what really happened. But lying to the police is a crime. If you lie, you could be accused of giving them false information. Instead of lying, use your right to remain silent.
Three Situations When You Must Identify Yourself
1 - You are driving a motor vehicle (including a scooter).
You must show your driver’s licence and your insurance and registration certificates if the police ask for them, even if you did nothing wrong. Passengers do not have to give their names.
2 – The police stopped you because they think you committed a crime.
The police can ask for your name if they see you commit a crime or offence, or if they have a good reason to believe that you did.
Here are examples:
- You were smoking a cigarette in a place where smoking is forbidden.
- You were in a park after closing hours.
- You hit someone.
In all cases, the police must tell you what crime or offence you committed.
A public transit inspector can also ask for your name if you did not pay the fare.
When asked, you must give them your name, address and sometimes your date of birth. You do not have to show identification.
3 – Your description fits the description of someone who has committed a crime.
In this situation, the police officers will ask you to identify yourself, after explaining why they need this information.
Important! If you refuse to identify yourself in any of these three situations, the police can refuse to let you go until they have made necessary checks. They are also allowed to bring you to the police station.
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.