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When Both Sides are Mistaken: Layperson and Legal Professionals’ Misconceptions of Canadian Suspects’ Legal Rights Upon Arrest

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nicole Adams-QuackenbushORCiD


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Canadian criminal suspects have notably limited access to legal counsel upon arrest compared to suspects in the U.S. Additionally, prior research has shown significant misunderstanding of police warnings informing suspects of their rights upon arrest. This paper presents three studies on Canadians’ comprehension of criminal suspects’ rights upon arrest, with a focus on the right to counsel. Study 1 (N=80) and Study 2 (N=377) examined Canadian layperson’s comprehension, knowledge, and perceptions of legal rights upon arrest. In turn, Study 3 (N=78) investigated Canadian legal professionals’ perceptions of laypersons’ knowledge of those rights. Results from these three studies indicated there is substantial confusion about the right to counsel for Canadian criminal suspects. These results also support previous research demonstrating problems with comprehension of Canadian police cautions. Taken together, the findings of the present research pose significant concern for an increased risk of false confessions from Canadian suspects who enter an interrogation with limited knowledge and understanding of their legal right to counsel.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Patry MW, Connors CJ, Adams-Quackenbush NM, Smith SM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology

Year: 2017

Volume: 32

Issue: 1

Pages: 56-65

Print publication date: 01/03/2017

Online publication date: 06/05/2016

Acceptance date: 01/02/2016

ISSN (print): 0882-0783

Publisher: Springer US


DOI: 10.1007/s11896-016-9198-5


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