Are lie detector tests admissible in court?

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imagining Lie Detector Tests are not Admissible in Federal Court

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Group

Lie Detector Tests are Not Admissible

In a case of first impression, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Michigan) determined as a matter of first impression that results from a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) polygraph test (a lie detector) should not be admitted into evidence in a federal criminal case. Lie detector tests are generally not admissible in court, with a few limited exceptions.

United States v Semrau involved a Ph.D. psychologist accused of overbilling Medicare for a higher level of services than what was actually provided. One of the defenses was that the fMRI lie detector test showed the defendant to be generally truthful. The trial court excluded the test results, under FRE 702, stating (1) there were no reliable or measurable error rates for fMRI lie detection testing, and (2) there was uncertainty as to whether the principles and testing methods had been applied reliably to the facts of the defendant’s case. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the jury would more likely be confused rather than helped by the expert testimony and evidence. The results were also inadmissible under FRE 403 due to concerns with using lie-detection test results solely to bolster credibility.

Creative criminal defense

The fact that this matter, involving a lie detector tests admissibility, made it to the federal court of appeals is due to a criminal defense attorney’s creativity. It is part of the criminal defense attorney’s job to protect a client’s constitutional rights, raise all defenses that are available to them, and, when possible, think “outside the box” and develop new theories that can, or may, apply to the client’s particular case. Talking with the police, including making statements during a polygraph examination, is precarious. Lying to a federal agent, even a polygraph examiner, can result in criminal charges.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Fearless, aggressive Michigan criminal defense lawyers

The lawyers at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience defending people charged with state and federal crimes. We have represented criminal defendants across Michigan and the United States. If you, or someone you know, needs an aggressive and creative defense on a state or federal criminal charge, please contact the attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. We will take the time to talk with you, answer your questions, and address your concerns. Together we can develop a winning strategy! In some cases, it might be advisable to take a lie detector test, but the admissibility of the results is a separate issue. A lie detector test might not be admissible, but the result might influence a plea bargain or sentence agreement favorably.

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