Can You Be Forced to Take a Lie Detector Test?

Being a suspect in a criminal investigation is nerve-racking, even for the innocent. We’ve all heard of criminal investigations that led to coerced confessions and wrongful convictions, so it’s no wonder why it’s natural to be nervous when you’re sitting in a tiny interrogation room. Some suspects feel like the walls are closing in on them, and who can blame them?

Someone can be 100 percent innocent of a crime in question, but as they sit across from the detective with cameras rolling, their heart races, their breathing changes, they stutter, and sometimes their mind goes blank. So, when you add a lie detector to the equation, the suspect can lose their faith in their ability to control their body’s reactions, and in the criminal justice system.

Polygraph Examinations & Criminal Investigations

Lie detector tests, otherwise known as “polygraph examinations,” are frequently used by law enforcement agencies in criminal investigations. In fact, many detectives feel that they’re valuable tools for finding out if a suspect is lying or telling the truth.

During the criminal investigation process, law enforcement officers use various scientific methods to help them collect specimens, collect information, and analyze evidence. A few of these methods include DNA or genetic testing, blood tests, fingerprint testing, ballistics (science of firearms), alternative light photography, forensic carbon-14 dating, and more. A polygraph examination is another one of these tools.

Sometimes, an investigator needs to verify a statement made by a suspect in a criminal investigation. For example, suppose “Mary” is a suspect because her husband was killed execution style in the parking lot of his work. She is being investigated for hiring someone to murder her husband. Since she claimed to be innocent, an investigator may ask her to take a polygraph test to confirm that she really is innocent as she claims to be.

What is a Lie Detector Exactly?

A lie detector or “polygraph” is a machine that measures a person’s blood pressure, heart rate, perspiration, etc. and tries to explain if these bodily reactions indicate that a person is being truthful. They have been used substantially in criminal interrogations, but there are criminal experts, including judges, who question their reliability.

“If I am asked to take a lie detector test, do I have to do it? Can the police force me to do it if I am arrested?” No! Contrary to popular belief, no one in Florida or any other state for that matter can be forced to take a polygraph test as a suspect. However, a lot of citizens are not aware of this. As a result, the police can place so much pressure on a suspect that he or she believes that if they refuse to take the test, they’re admitting guilt.

If you refuse to take a polygraph test, it can make the police think that you are guilty. As a result, the police can end up harassing you until they can dig up some kind of evidence, though it may be questionable. However, just because you agree to take a lie detector test and you pass with flying colors, it doesn’t mean the police will think you’re innocent. They may think that you manipulated the machine and “beat the test” instead of telling the truth.

Are Polygraphs Admissible in Court?

Most states either have laws that say they are inadmissible in court or they say that they can be admitted as long as both sides agree to admit the test results as evidence. In Florida, previously convicted sex offenders may be required to take a polygraph test; however, the test results cannot be used against them in court. And, they’re only used as a part of their therapy, not as evidence. To learn more, click here.

If you’re being asked to take a lie detector test in Tampa or anywhere else in Hillsborough County, contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. for a free case evaluation!