Are Polygraphs Admissible in Court?


CA Evidence Code  351.1. Polygraph examinations; results, opinion of examiner or reference; exclusion

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the results of a polygraph examination, the opinion of a polygraph examiner, or any reference to an offer to take, failure to take, or taking of a polygraph examination, shall not be admitted into evidence in any criminal proceeding, including pretrial and post conviction motions and hearings, or in any trial or hearing of a juvenile for a criminal offense, whether heard in juvenile or adult court, unless all parties stipulate to the admission of such results.

(b) Nothing in this section is intended to exclude from evidence statements made during a polygraph examination which are otherwise admissible.


People v. Houser, 85 Cal.App.2d 686, 193 P.2d 937 (1948) Robinson v. Wilson, 44 Cal.App.3d 92, 118 Cal.Rptr. 569 (1974). Witherspoon v. Superior Court, 133 Cal.App.3rd 24 (1982)

United States

In 2007, polygraph testimony was admitted by stipulation in 19 states, and was subject to the discretion of the trial judge in federal court. The use of polygraph in court testimony remains controversial, although it is used extensively in post-conviction supervision, particularly of sex offenders. In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals (1993) [5], the old Frye standard was lifted and all forensic evidence, including polygraph, had to meet the new Daubert standard in which “underlying reasoning or methodology is scientifically valid and properly can be applied to the facts at issue.” While polygraph tests are commonly used in police investigations in the US, no defendant or witness can be forced to undergo the test. In United States v. Scheffer (1998) [6], the U.S. Supreme Court left it up to individual jurisdictions whether polygraph results could be admitted as evidence in court cases. Nevertheless, it is used extensively by prosecutors, defense attorneys, and law enforcement agencies. In the States of Massachusetts and Maryland, it is illegal for any employer to order a polygraph either as conditions to gain employment, or if an employee has been suspected of wrongdoing. The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA) generally prevents employers from using lie detector tests, either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment, with certain exemptions.[31]

In the United States, the State of New Mexico admits polygraph testing in front of juries under certain circumstances. In many other states, polygraph examiners are permitted to testify in front of judges in various types of hearings (Motion to Revoke Probation, Motion to Adjudicate Guilt).

In 2007, in Ohio v. Sharma, an Ohio trial court overruled the objections of a prosecutor and allowed a polygraph examiner to testify regarding a specific issue criminal examination. The court took the position that the prosecutors regularly used polygraph examiner to conduct criminal tests against defendants, but only objected to the examiner’s testimony when the results contradicted what they hoped to achieve.[7] Dr. Louis Rovner,[8], a polygraph expert from California, tested the defendant and testified as an expert witness both at a pretrial admissibility hearing and at trial. The defendant, who had been charged with sexual battery, was acquitted.[32]

in 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court argued that Military Rule of Evidence 707, which makes polygraph evidence inadmissible in court-martial proceedings, does not unconstitutionally abridge the right of accused members of the military to present a defense (United States, Petitioner v. Edward G. Scheffer).

The minimum fee for any polygraph is $500, truth or admissible

In reality, most polygraph results are used outside of the courtroom in pre-trial negotiations, plea bargaining, sentence recommendations, and witness verification or impeachment.

No one really passed these tests because they rarely gave them to innocent people.

The first major case dealing with the use of polygraph in criminal cases was tried in 1923. This case set a precedent in polygraph. In Frye vs. United States the court ruled that polygraph was inadmissible based on the general acceptance rule of scientific reliability. The Frye case involved a man accused of murder. Even though Frye claimed that he was innocent, a jury found him guilty. Before his trial Frye was given a polygraph. A researcher by the name of Marston gave the opinion that Frye was telling the truth. Marston used blood pressure changes as indicators for truthful or deceptive responses. After serving about three years of his prison sentence another man confessed to the murder and Frye was released.

During the pre test, the examiner attempts to build a rapport with the examinee. It is an information gathering session. The information is of a personal and factual nature and reflects the examinee’s entire past and present. It is essential for the examiner to feel like he “knows” the person he is to examine and for the examinee to feel that he is to be tested fairly. polygraph examiner.

The prosecution had stated that they would drop the case if the polygraph ?proved? the defendant’s innocence.

Once you start trying to prove the negative you are already in trouble.

the wisdom of taking a polygraph is questionable.  To take one without counsel present is absurd.  Police will often lie to people who have passed the polygraph in an effort to extort a confession, telling them that they failed.  Strange as it may sound, there is nothing illegal about this.  An honest prosecutor or police officer (an oxymoron?) will admit that the main value of the polygraph is to get this confession, since the results are not admissible in court.  Any attorney who doesn’t know this is incompetent.

one of the more difficult things in life is for a defendant in a criminal case to convince his attorney that he has a case.  The notion that everyone who is charge with a crime is guilty is deeply ingrained in those who practice in the criminal justice system, even many defense attorneys.  If I were seeking legal counsel, I would want to be sure before I hired someone that they believed in my innocence.

Note that the American Psychological Association considers the polygraph to be only 61% reliable or, 11% more reliable than a random guess. truth in justice

A woman swears she was raped; the defendant swears it was consensual. An arrested suspect charges that police used excessive force; the officers deny it. A jailhouse “informant” swears that the defendant confessed a murder to him; the defendant swears it isn’t so. In these situations, polygraph results may prove invaluable, if used correctly.

perjured testimony by police is so common that there is a word for it, “Testilying”, that is used and understood in every station house and D.A. office.

What role does the lie detector play in the justice system?

Beginning in the 1920s and ’30s, with gathering speed, most criminal cases have been resolved through a process of plea bargaining, then a relatively new form of justice that has come to dominate American jurisprudence, now resolving up to 90 percent of all criminal indictments. The lie detector came into its own within this new system as a sort of bluffing game. The threat of employing it increasingly was used to get people to confess to crimes. North

Polygraph is a parlor trick counterpunch


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