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Should I Take a Polygraph Test to Prove My Innocence?

Blank Law, PC Team

Should I Take a Polygraph Test to Prove My Innocence?

Suppose you are involved in a criminal case anywhere in Michigan. In this situation, you may be asked to take a polygraph test, also known as a lie detector test. A police detective, the Michigan Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), Child Protective Services (CPS), or other local law enforcement agencies could make this request.

While it is understandable to want to clear your name as soon as possible during criminal investigations, you should wait to submit to a government-sponsored polygraph test unless your criminal defense attorney specifically encourages you to do so.

Polygraph Test

The lie detector test can be crucial to a wellplanned criminal defense. While police detectives often use polygraph examinations to link an alleged suspect to a crime, aggressive defense attorneys can use the results to demonstrate a client’s innocence.

Additionally, a polygraph test’s results are inconclusive and can be challenged in various circumstances. The strength of your defense may depend on knowing how to use polygraph test results strategically. With the guidance of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer, you may be able to use a lie detector test to prove your innocence in a Michigan criminal case.

Should I Take a Polygraph Test to Prove My Innocence?

You may be persuaded to submit to a polygraph program during criminal investigations. However, what could initially seem like a polygraph technique to establish your innocence may quickly become an aggressive interrogation. Federal government agents may try to frighten or upset you so that your physiological responses make you appear to be lying.

A polygraph process will only have the safety measures necessary to guarantee the test is as accurate as possible if a trained specialist administers it. Generally speaking, a lie detector’s accuracy is dubious at best. Results from tests taken by laypeople are nearly never reliable.

Therefore, you should not be too eager to submit to polygraph testing, even if you believe it is the key to proving your innocence. Letting your lawyer guide you on the best defense tactic to establish your innocence would be best. However, if you decide to take a polygraph test, ensure your criminal defense attorney is present.

Furthermore, you should know that as vital as polygraph examinations are, innocent test takers sometimes fail them. The National Academy of Sciences reports that polygraph results can be altered by a range of mental and physical factors, such as nervousness over being tested, thus making the technique susceptible to error. Once you have failed a government-sponsored polygraph examination, proving your innocence to the police becomes more challenging.

You are not under a legal obligation to submit to a lie detector test during a criminal case. You do not have to take the test, even if the police tell you it is required or if they threaten to arrest you if you do not. Additionally, offering to take a test to demonstrate your innocence can be dangerous because there is no assurance that the results will be reliable.

With that said, if you want to take a polygraph exam, it will help to have your lawyer arrange one. Our law firm, Blank Law, PC, often arranges polygraph testing for criminal defendants. Given the proper circumstances, we can help you schedule a private polygraph screening to give us some insight into your potential performance on a government test.

Our Michigan law firm often works with private polygraph analysts with experience working with local and federal law enforcement agencies. Working with them enables us to confidently present positive findings to government agencies and, if you so choose, to prepare for a government-sponsored polygraph exam. However, we are not obligated to discuss the results with anybody if you fail a private polygraph exam for any reason, including anxiety.

We Can Use the Results of a Polygraph Test to Prevent Criminal Charges from Being Filed

Our legal team at Blank Law, PC has worked with polygraph outcomes for many years. We know how to dispute a polygraph’s findings when the testing procedure or questions are flawed. Sometimes the data may not be interpreted accurately.

As the leading criminal defense law firm in Michigan, we challenge the results of lie detector tests and work with the most reputable private polygraph examiners certified by the American Polygraph Association to demonstrate our client’s innocence. Our positive results often put an end to police investigations involving our clients, thus preventing the filing of criminal charges against them.

How Michigan Polygraph Testing Works

Suspects are frequently asked to submit to lie detector tests in criminal trials in Michigan. A polygraph instrument determines whether a subject exhibits consistent, significant physiological responses when asked appropriately-designed polygraph questions.

Depending on where they occur throughout the entire examination, these responses are used to determine if someone is telling the truth or lying. Do these replies appear when they should, as they should, or do they appear unexpectedly? And if so, are the answers reliable and relevant? The basis for polygraph tests is scientific validity that, whether people tell the truth or lie, their bodies react in predictable and meaningful ways.

Usually, four to six sensors are put on the person being questioned to assess their reactions. The sensors track the person’s heart rate, perspiration, blood pressure, gross motor movements, and other physiological phenomena.

Polygraphs are a form of forensic psychiatry and can be used in any situation, including as a credibility assessment in pre-employment screening or by the federal government for security reasons.

However, they are typically used in criminal investigations to ascertain a person’s involvement in or knowledge of a specific crime and to provide answers to additional relevant questions. An aggressive criminal defense lawyer may also make good use of polygraph tests. A polygraph exam can detect lies or prove that someone is telling the truth, depending on the situation.

The polygraph test involves three parts:

  • The PreTest Interview: This stage includes biographical information, medical information, a non-accusatory examination of the allegation(s), an explanation of how the polygraph apparatus operates, and the development and evaluation of test questions. This process takes between an hour to an hour and a half.
  • Polygraph Charts Collections: The polygraph sensors are put on a person’s body, and the examiner questions the test taker. This stage lasts about 20-30 minutes.
  • Analyzing the Charts: The examiner thoroughly evaluates the charts using a recognized and established scoring system and communicates the results to the examinee. This stage lasts for less than 10 minutes.

After gathering a minimum of three, and a maximum of five, polygraph charts there are four possible outcomes:

  • No Significant Response: In line with no deception (truthful)
  • Significant Reaction: Suggestive of deception (lying)
  • Inconclusive: The chart data needs to be sufficiently clear to make a judgment
  • Incomplete: The exam still needs to be finished

A complete polygraph procedure typically takes two to three hours, with the chart-gathering part taking 20-30 minutes. The examinee should have an acquaintance examination at the start of the chart collection phase. This examination aims to ensure that the subject can follow simple instructions, all sensors provide a clear, functional signal, and the subject’s body can react appropriately.

The administration of the relevant issue examination is the next step. All the questions covered in the pre-test will be asked during this phase. Each polygraph exam lasts between five and six minutes, and there will be a minimum of three tests.

Throughout the interview, the examinee’s responses will be gauged and noted on paper or in a computer program. Afterwards, the polygraph examiner will examine, compare, and score the subject’s physiological responses.

With innovations in behavioral and social sciences and gathering scientific evidence, experts are developing new methods of lie detection. A popular approach is lie detection using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This approach examines the central nervous system to compare the time and topography of activity in the brain for lie detection. While a polygraph detects anxiety-induced changes in activity in the peripheral nervous system, fMRI purportedly measures blood flow to brain areas involved in deception.

What Kind of Questions Should I Expect During a Polygraph Examination?

The Control Question Test (CQT) is the most common polygraph test used in criminal investigations in Michigan. It is also called the Comparative Question Test (CQT). During the CQT test, your response to relevant questions (such as “Did you take the car?”) is contrasted with your response to control questions. Questions that are pertinent to the investigation and “control questions” meant to elicit a physiological response (such as “Have you ever lied to get something you wanted?”) may be asked alternately.

In addition, the Concealed Information Test (CIT) may be administered during a polygraph exam. It is also known as the guilty knowledge test. Federal agencies use it to detect if you have guilty knowledge of a crime. It consists of multiple-choice questions that an innocent person would fail. In contrast, a guilty person would only give the correct answers. The Concealed Information Test may be used alongside another polygraph test to determine your guilt.

Are the Results of a Polygraph Test Admissible in Court?

The reliability of polygraph tests has been debated for many years. According to the National Academies Press of the National Research Council, polygraph technology is too flawed to be used for employee security screening by the government. However, it may be helpful during police investigations to determine if a suspect is lying, although it is not a foolproof method.

An innocent person can be regarded as deceptive due to false positives. In contrast, false negatives could result in a deceptive person being recorded as truthful. A polygraph examiner may make mistakes if they do not adequately prepare the subject for the test or if they mishandle the technology assessment.

Therefore, as a general rule in criminal law, the court held in Fyre v. United States that polygraphs are inadmissible in court because of their susceptibility to error and the fact that an innocent person could fail the test while a guilty person passes it. These tests measure diastolic and systolic blood pressure, sweating, breathing, and other responses, which are intentionally controlled or altered by other factors.

The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences has reported that the CQT has about 90% accuracy and qualifies as legally admissible scientific evidence in a local and federal court. However, polygraph evidence remains inadmissible if the prosecution or defense presents or refers to it in court. Criminal defendants may not use the results of a polygraph test to establish their evidence in court if the prosecutors refuse to accept it.

Lie detection tests become admissible in court if both parties stipulate their admissibility. However, it is rare for prosecutors or defense to stipulate a polygraph exam that helps the other side in the criminal justice system.

We Have Experience Using Polygraph Analysis in Michigan Criminal Cases

Lie detector examinations are still not foolproof, so polygraph testing results are generally not acceptable under the Michigan criminal justice system under a few conditions. However, it has been documented that the results of the polygraph exam can have an impact on crucial investigative and prosecutorial choices.

Therefore, a criminal defense attorney should be prepared to fight polygraph results. Our legal team is aware that certain polygraph settings are more accurate than others and that various circumstances influence the accuracy of the test findings.

We Help Our Clients Prove their Innocence Using Lie-Detector Tests

Attorney Nicole Blank Becker and her team at Blank Law, PC advise clients on the best defense strategies and work with them to beat the criminal charges brought against them. We assist them with gathering evidence supporting their claims to prove their innocence.

Lie detection tests can be helpful, and our clients often consider using them to prove their innocence. We employ the best polygraph examiners and help our clients prepare for the tests should they decide to take a government-sponsored test. We also ensure they are not overly concerned about giving the correct answer. Instead, we help them focus on simply answering as truthfully as possible.

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