Can the police force you to take a polygraph test?

On Behalf of | Jun 23, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

When charged with a crime in California, navigating the complexities of the legal system can be a daunting task. One question that often arises is whether the police can require you to take a polygraph, also known as a lie detector test.

Polygraph tests measure physiological responses to questions, under the premise that deceptive answers produce different physiological responses than those associated with non-deceptive answers. Understanding your rights surrounding polygraph testing can be instrumental in your interactions with the law enforcement system.

The use of polygraph tests by California police

In California, the police cannot require you to take a polygraph test if they charge you with a crime. Taking a polygraph test is voluntary and not a requirement. You have the right to refuse to take a polygraph test without facing any legal consequences.

Test results in court

In addition, the results of any polygraph test you do choose to take are generally not admissible in a California court. Courts do not universally accept the reliability of polygraph tests. Therefore, whether you pass or fail a polygraph test, officials cannot use results as evidence in court to prove your guilt or innocence.

Implications of taking a polygraph test

While you have the right to take a polygraph test if you wish, you should carefully consider the potential implications. The test’s results may not be admissible in court, but they can influence the police’s perspective on your case. A failed test, even if inaccurate, could lead to increased scrutiny.

Understanding the rules surrounding polygraph tests is essential. Ultimately, taking a polygraph test is your decision, and you should consider it carefully.