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Word of the Week - "I Don't Think So"




When asked if she wanted to contact a lawyer, [the accused] replied, ‘I don't think so.’ That reply did not not indicate a failure to understand the right to contact counsel, nor a misapprehension of the jeopardy in which she found herself. Rather, it indicated a hesitation as to whether she wanted to exercise that right.

R. v. Winters

2011 CarswellAlta 2122 (Alta. Prov. Ct.) at para. 38

A.A. Fradsham Prov. J


[The arresting officer], again, asked the accused if he wanted to call a lawyer. The officer did so because of the uncertain nature of the earlier response. [The accused] said, ‘I don't think so.’ and [the arresting officer] assessed this statement as a positive response that the accused did not want to call a lawyer.

. . . . .

The officer said that if [the accused] wanted to call a lawyer, he should let the officer know. The words ‘I don't think so’ are quite capable of being interpreted as a positive statement indicating waiver of the right to call a lawyer. If they are parsed, they simply say that the maker of the statement is thinking a certain thought, which is to say that he does not want to call a lawyer. Certainly, in a different context, or said with a tremulous voice, or with an inflection which transformed the words into a question, then the officer might have been alerted that there was a necessity to make a further inquiry. That was not the case here.

R. v. O'Day,

2001 CarswellOnt 2623 (Ont. C.J.) at para. 10, 20

Brophy J.

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