Two Important Reasons To Refuse A Polygraph Test

If you've been asked by the prosecuting attorney or criminal investigators to take a polygraph test -- commonly called a lie detector test -- you may be tempted to agree. It seems like a way of verifying your innocence and cooperating with the authorities. Criminal defense attorneys generally advise against taking these tests, however. Consider two reasons to refuse this request; you are under no obligation to agree to it.

A Polygraph Gauges Anxiety

Polygraph equipment measures changes in your physical state as you answer questions. Some changes indicate greater physical arousal, which can be connected with nervousness, anxiety and fear. Elevations in blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate are examples. 

In the prosecution's view, a relatively high anxiety level as shown by a polygraph is a sign of deception. However, people can be anxious even when they are truthful. Being charged with a crime may be a nerve-wracking experience in itself. In addition, some individuals who actually are guilty of a crime may be so accustomed to being dishonest that their physical state doesn't change much when they lie.

Thus, sometimes an innocent person's polygraph test may seem to indicate dishonesty while a guilty person may pass with flying colors.

These are reasons that defense attorneys typically encourage their clients not to submit to this type of test.

The Problem of Relief When the Test Ends

Detectives and prosecuting attorneys also like using polygraph tests because the suspect may feel so relieved when the test ends that they become more cooperative and talkative. They might say things that cause them problems later, as a judge may allow those statements to be entered as evidence.

Remember that the prosecution team is trying to gather evidence against you. If you do agree to the lie detector test, be sure not to volunteer any information afterward or answer any questions from the detectives or prosecuting attorney. 

Concluding Thoughts

If you haven't already hired a criminal defense lawyer, consult an attorney now. It's important to have skilled legal representation when you've been charged with a crime.

If you truly want to proceed with a polygraph test, your lawyer can set an appointment with a private firm at a location away from the police station or courthouse. Your lawyer will come with you to the appointment. If your state allows polygraph results in court, the lawyer may use those results if they are positive. 

To learn more, contact a criminal defense attorney like Jeffrey D. Larson, Attorney at Law