Should I take a police requested polygraph exam?

If you pass a police polygraph examination, the prosecutor may decide to dismiss charges. On the other hand, they may not do anything. How can you ensure they do the right thing?

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Deciding whether to take a polygraph examination is complicated.

Without a respected lawyer, you have no protection, and anything you say “can and will be used against you.” The police will use statements against you even if made before, during, or after a polygraph examination if you do not have an enforceable agreement otherwise. Although the government may dismiss charges if you pass a polygraph test, they will not agree to a dismissal in advance. The bottom line is that if you are asking, “Should I take a police requested polygraph exam?” you need to be consulting closely with an experienced lawyer.

There are good reasons to take a polygraph and strong reasons why you should not.

Deciding whether to submit to a police requested polygraph exam is complicated. Someone should never participate in a polygraph examination without the advice of a seriously experienced criminal defense attorney.

You should know several things when deciding whether to participate in a polygraph examination. Oddly enough, police rarely ask for polygraph exams to see if someone is telling the truth. Generally, police ask for polygraph examinations because it allows an expert interrogator (i.e., polygraph examiner) to question someone or get someone otherwise not talking to start a dialog. The best answer to the question, “Should I take a police requested polygraph exam?” will depend on many factors.

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Frequently Asked Polygraph Questions About Police Requested Polygraph Examinations:

If I agreed to take a polygraph examination, do I still have to do it?

No. If you shouldn’t take a polygraph examination, a lawyer can contact the police department and cancel the examination.

Can the police lie about the result and claim I failed when the results showed I was truthful?

Yes. Lying is a widespread and accepted practice of polygraph examiners and police investigators. Police lie about polygraph results and other evidence in a case to trick or manipulate a person into making an admission, confession, or inculpatory statement.

Are the results of a polygraph admissible in court?

Generally no. There are exceptions when a polygraph result may be admissible in an evidentiary hearing on the issue of credibility.

Why should I take a polygraph if the results are not admissible?

A favorable result may help avoid or reduce charges or achieve a favorable sentence if some, but not all, facts in a case are in dispute. If a prosecutor is on the fence about issuing charges, they may decline a warrant request if a polygraph examination shows that a subject was truthful.

Is it true that some people cannot pass a polygraph, even if truthful?

Yes. No matter how truthful they are during a polygraph exam, some people will fail virtually every time. A person can be tested privately before a police polygraph to see if they are an appropriate candidate for a polygraph test.

If I pass a polygraph, is it possible I will still be charged with a crime?

Absolutely. In many cases, police have already decided that a person is guilty of a crime and is being charged (or has already been charged). This is one of those situations where the police are looking for another crack at an interrogation.

If I am nervous or anxious, will that affect the polygraph?

No. Nervousness and anxiety are constant. In other words, you cannot turn your nervousness and anxiety off for one test question and back on for the next. Your nervousness is present throughout the testing process and will not impact the result. Consider this…anyone taking a police polygraph is nervous and anxious. When you are accused of a serious crime, you would have to be pathological to be unafraid.

Can I fail a polygraph if I am telling the truth?

Yes. There is an expression that is partially true; polygraph tests will fail 20% of the people telling the truth and pass 10% of the people who lie. While the percentages are highly debatable, there is no doubt that some people will fail even though they are truthful, and some people who are being dishonest will pass with flying colors. Experienced criminal defense lawyers generally work with private polygraph examiners who can assess a potential test subject to see if they can be tested accurately.

What does it mean to fail a polygraph?

Deception is indicated when the examinee’s Autonomic Nervous System displays a significant and repetitive “defensive” reaction to one or more relevant test questions. Research has shown that if a polygraph is done correctly and the charts are read accurately, the test subject is deceptive or withholding information 90% of the time that this reaction is observed.

Should I take a police polygraph or not?

It would be best if you did not make this decision without the assistance of a very experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with vast experience in criminal law will be able to assess all the advantages and disadvantages and guide you in making the best possible decision. If you are unrepresented, get an attorney ASAP. If the police are asking you to take a polygraph, the allegation against you is very serious and potentially life-changing in a tragic way. Don’t take the accusation lightly, or it will likely be to your detriment.

In what types of cases do law enforcement officers request polygraph exams?

Police do not use polygraphs in most cases; however, they commonly request them when there are allegations of criminal sexual conduct (CSC), theft or embezzlement, assault, child abuse, drug crimes, internet crimes, child pornography, fraud, obstruction of justice and perjury.

What law enforcement agencies request polygraphs?

Local police, the Michigan State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), the Secret Service, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, most commonly request polygraphs.

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Criminal Defense Attorney Experienced with Polygraph Examinations

The defense team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has decades of experience defending and protecting clients accused of serious criminal offenses in Michigan. Many of our clients are high-profile public figures or people who cannot afford to have a mistake made that would jeopardize their future or family. When there is no room for errors, and you need a lawyer with the experience, dedication, and intelligence to give you the best possible defense to a serious felony or misdemeanor allegation, we are here to help you.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

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