Should I take a polygraph (lie detector) test?

Polygraph examinations, also known as “lie detector tests,” can be invaluable tools as part of a strategic criminal defense. While law enforcement may use Polygraph examinations to try to implicate an alleged suspect in a crime, aggressive criminal defense attorneys can use polygraph results to show a client’s innocence. Further, in many situations the results of a polygraph examination can be challenged. Understanding the strategic use of Polygraph examinations results is key to a vigorous defense.

Polygraph Results To Keep Charges From Being Filed

At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have years of experience working with Polygraph results. We understand how to challenge Polygraphs results; in some cases the questions may be flawed, or the testing circumstances are disruptive. Other times, the data may not be correctly interpreted. In addition to challenging results, as the top criminal defense law firm in Michigan, we have also successfully used the most reputable private Polygraph analysts to provide compelling proof of our client’s innocence; in many situations ensuring criminal charges are never even filed.

The Basics Of Michigan Polygraph Testing

In many Michigan criminal cases, suspects are asked to submit to a Polygraph examination. A Polygraph instrument is used to detect when a person is providing consistent significant physiological changes when presented with properly formatted polygraph questions. These responses, depending on where they occur during the entire examination, are used to render a decision of truthfulness or deception (lying). Do these responses occur when they are expected and should be present or do the show up when unexpected? And if so, are the responses consistent and significant? Polygraph examinations are based on the validated scientific research that when people tell the truth or when they lie their body will respond in consistent and significant ways.

In order to measure people’s reactions, generally four to six sensors are placed on the person being questioned. The sensors measure:

  • The suspect’s pulse.
  • The suspect’s breathing volume and rate.
  • The suspect’s relative blood pressure.
  • The suspect’s electrodermal activity.
  • The suspect’s gross motor movements.

Polygraph examinations can be used in any circumstance, but are frequently used in criminal investigations to determine an individual’s knowledge of, or participation in a particular crime, or to answer other questions that a police officer may deem relevant. Polygraph examinations may also be useful as part of a vigorous criminal defense. The results are not only used to show that someone is lying, but can also be an effective way to show that someone is telling the truth. The exam consists of three parts:

  • The pre-test interview including: Biographical data, medical data, non-accusatory interview of allegation(s), explanation of how polygraph instrument works, and question formulation and review (1-1.5 hours).
  • Chart collections: Where the polygraph sensors are placed on a person’s body and examination questions are asked (20-30 minutes).
  • Review of the charts: The examiner should do a detailed review of charts which includes utilizing an established and recognized scoring protocol and a revealing of results to the examinee (less than 10 minutes).
    • There are four potential outcomes after the collection of a minimum of three charts to a maximum of five charts:
      • No Significant Response consistent with no deception (truthful).
      • Significant Response consistent with deception (lying).
      • Inconclusive, which is chart data is not clear enough to decide.
      • Incomplete: the test is not completed.

The entire Polygraph examination process typically lasts around two to three hours of which approximately 20-30 minutes will be during the chart collection phase. At the beginning of the chart collection phase the examinee should be administered an acquaintance examination. The purpose of this examination is to ensure the examinee can follow basic instructions, which a clear properly functioning signal from all sensors is present, and the examinee’s body can properly respond. Next comes the administration of the relevant issue examination. All questions reviewed in the pre-test phase will be asked during this phase. The Polygraph examiner will conduct a minimum of three examinations up to five, with each lasting 5-6 minutes. The examinee’s reactions will be measured throughout questioning and recorded on a piece of paper or within a computer program. The polygraph examiner will review, compare and score the person’s physiological responses.

What Kinds Of Polygraph Questions Can I Expect?

The most common type of Polygraph test used in Michigan criminal investigations is the Control Question Test (CQT). The CQT test compares your reaction to relevant questions (i.e. “Did you steal the car?”) to your response on control questions. The type of questions asked may alternate between those that are relevant to the investigation, and “control questions” that are designed to elicit some sort of physiological response (i.e. “Have you ever lied to get something you want?”).

Another type of polygraph questioning is the Concealed Information Test (CIT). The CIT involves multiple-choice questions that only someone who is guilty could answer correctly.

Our Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyers Have Experience Using Polygraph Analysis In All Types Of Michigan Criminal Cases

While Polygraph/lie detector examinations still have some skeptics, the results of polygraph testing are generally not admissible in Michigan courts except under a few exceptions. However, critical investigative and prosecutorial decisions have been known to be influenced by the polygraph examination results. This means it is crucial that a criminal defense attorney be prepared to challenge polygraph results. The Michigan criminal defense lawyers at Grabel & Associates understand that certain Polygraph settings are more reliable than others, with many factors affecting how reliable the results are.

Our Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyers Have Years Of Experience Using Lie Detector Tests To Prove Our Clients’ Innocence

These include anything from the particular examiner, to the types of questions used, to the person being questioned. Some people may be more anxious than others, leading to false positives. Further, as the top criminal defense lawyers we have access to the most qualified polygraph examiners in the state whose results will stand up to scrutiny and will use polygraph tests as part of your vigorous defense.

Polygraph Test Resources In Michigan Include:

The attorneys at Scott Grabel & Associates are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to discuss your criminal case and whether the use of a Polygraph examination would be beneficial to you getting the best possible result in your case. For a free initial consultation, call us, toll free at 1-800-342-7896, or use the contact us form on this website.