Why Are Lie Detectors Not Allowed in Court


    You may be thinking that if the results are not used against me in court, why not take the test? Here`s why: Even though it`s unlikely that the test results will be admitted to court, the things you say before or after the test can be allowed. Over the years, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled many decisions on whether lie detector tests should be admitted as evidence in criminal trials. Before Larson`s invention, courts treated lie detection tests with suspicion. In a 1922 case, a judge barred presenting the results of a pre-polygraph lie detector to the court, fearing that the test, despite its unreliability, could have an undue impact on a jury`s opinion. Polygraphs are not admissible in court if the state does not recognize them as valid examinations, if both parties do not decide to admit them as evidence in the states that admit them, if the law prohibits their use in certain situations and/or if a judge refuses to admit them in a particular case. More importantly, the court left it up to the states to decide whether the test could even be taken to court. Today, 23 states allow the admission of lie detector tests as evidence in a trial, and many of these states require bipartisan consent. Finally, it should be noted that even if a court refuses to admit the results of the interrogation into evidence, a prosecutor may still use a final report to support his or her charges against the accused. So if someone tries to force a suspect to take a lie detector test, they should immediately contact a criminal lawyer to protect their constitutional rights. The truth about lie detectors is that we all really want them to work. It would be much easier if, with two contradictory versions of the same event, there was a machine capable of telling which side was telling the truth. This is what the innovators behind the modern polygraph wanted to do – but the scientific community has its doubts about the polygraph, and around the world it remains controversial.

    Even its inventor was afraid to call it a “lie detector.” Then, after his Polygraph findings secured a conviction in a 1935 murder trial (by prior agreement between the defense and the prosecution), Keeler — Larson`s protégé — asserted that “lie detector results in court are as acceptable as fingerprint testimony.” The EPPA prohibits most private employers from using these tests for current candidates or employees. Employers are also not allowed to take action against an employee (e.g., terminate, discriminate, discipline, etc.) for refusing to take a test under the law. The same applies to law enforcement. Again, you cannot be pressured to undergo a lie detector test, and your refusal cannot be used as evidence against you in court. Whether a lie detector test is admissible in court depends on the jurisdiction. For example, the eligibility of polygraphs varies considerably from state to state. However, they can generally be divided into two main categories: states that consider the test results to be totally inadmissible and those that allow them in court, but only if they are subject to conditions imposed by the parties. In other words, the latter category requires the suspect and the prosecutor to agree to admit the findings. An experienced defense attorney can discuss your test results and explain what they might mean for your case. Your lawyer can also inform you of your rights as a criminal defendant, discuss your possible legal options (p. e.g. plea agreement, legal proceedings, etc.) and be represented in court if necessary.

    The reason states are so divided on this issue is that, with the exception of EPPA, there are no uniform standards that apply, and this is primarily at the discretion of the judge and/or state laws. For example, the idea that court cases use lie detector tests as a form of reliable evidence was first floated in Frye v. USA in 1923. Finally, as already mentioned, the EPPA was adopted in 1998. This Act still applies to many civil court proceedings concerning polygraphs and employment matters. However, it does not apply to government employees (e.g., federal, state, and local agencies) or those hired by security companies or pharmaceutical companies. The Act also includes separate definitions for “lie detector” and “polygraph” and clarifies what is prohibited by federal law. To date, 23 states consider lie detector tests in court to be allowed. However, the majority of these states require the consent of both parties before they can be deposited.

    In most cases, the lie detector test is also not used in a criminal case, but in a civil court, such as when there was a problem that prevented a person from obtaining a job or a security clearance. But numerous court decisions have ensured that this will not be the case. Although polygraph technology has continued to improve and the questioning process has become more systematic and standardized, scientists and legal experts have remained divided on the effectiveness of the device. Even if a suspect refuses to take a lie detector test, this fact cannot be used against him in court. There is absolutely no legal requirement that a person must be tested, even if law enforcement tries to pressure them to take one. As discussed above, the EPPA and other state laws make it illegal to force a person to take a polygraph lie detector test. However, if the person voluntarily agrees to take one, this evidence may be used against him or her in court. A 1998 Supreme Court decision concluded that the risk of false alarms is too high as long as this is the case. The polygraph test, according to the court, enjoys an “aura of infallibility” scientifically, although “there is simply no consensus on the reliability of polygraph evidence” and ruled that passing the test cannot be considered evidence of innocence. Therefore, participation in the test must remain voluntary and its results must never be presented as conclusive. It`s not exactly breaking news: Saxony`s 1983 report to Congress led to a nationwide ban on private employers conducting lie detector tests on employees, and a 1998 Supreme Court ruling ruled against the use of polygraph evidence in some federal courts because “there is simply no consensus on the reliability of polygraph evidence.” The results of a lie detector test are almost always never admitted to court.