Criminal justice systems rely on people to tell the truth about their events. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, polygraph tests are used to measure the truthfulness of a person’s statement. However, one question often arises – are polygraphs admissible in Virginia courts?
No. Polygraphs are not admissible in Virginia courts. The test results of polygraphs cannot be used as evidence. Whether the polygraph examiner’s opinion shows that you are truthful or not, it cannot be used as evidence in Virginia court proceedings. But the statements a person makes during the interview portion of the polygraph are admissible. So, they will use the polygraph as an interrogation tool to convince a person to confess before the polygraph is given.
No one can force you to take a polygraph test. There is no particular law in Virginia or throughout the United States that makes it illegal to refuse a polygraph test. Bear in mind that under no circumstances can someone legally force you to take this test.
Do You Have to Take a Polygraph Test?
Certain situations may require you to take a lie detector test. For example, if you pursue a career in law enforcement or security, you may be required to pass a lie detector test. If you seek a position that puts you in charge of sensitive materials, illegal drugs, or large sums of money, passing a polygraph test may be a condition of employment.
In these situations, no one is forcing you to do anything. The decision of whether you want to accept or refuse a polygraph is all yours. However, if this is an elite company you have longed to work for, it would likely be in your best interest to submit to the lie detector, providing you have nothing to hide.
While polygraphs are viewed as lie detectors, they don’t actually show whether a statement is true or false. Instead, a polygraph machine measures physiological responses to determine if an individual’s response may indicate a person is lying.
It measures indicators like increased heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration. These indicators may show an individual is untruthful, but they may also indicate a person is simply nervous, stressed, or anxious.
What is the Polygraph Process?
A polygraph test measures the breathing rate, perspiration, blood pressure, pulse, and other involuntary bodily changes that a person has no control over. During the test, only the person being questioned, and the questioner are present.
The polygraph process starts with the questioner connecting the subject to the device and asking a couple of simple questions to establish the baseline for the person’s signals. Once a baseline is established, precise and clearly formulated questions will be are asked. As the subject is answering the questions, the machine records all physiological responses on the machine. If there are any changes during questioning, they will appear on the printout.
During and after the test, an examiner will look at the graphs to determine if the vital signs have changed significantly on any of the questions. If there are no significant physiological changes, it may mean a person is being truthful. On the other hand, if the machine records increased heart rate, blood pressure, or perspiration, it could mean a person is lying.
However, since different people react differently to lying, and the mentioned physiological changes may result from nervousness or anxiety, the results of polygraph tests are not 100% accurate. These tests work on the assumption that the physiological responses to lying cannot be concealed during questioning.
Polygraphs in Criminal Investigations
In any criminal investigation in Virginia, the state should prove that the person accused has committed a certain crime. The state must use the police, investigators, and prosecutors to collect enough evidence to support the claims of guilt. It could be evidence in the form of forensic evidence, photographs, testimony, video recording, or other forms.
A defendant may be asked to take a polygraph test, and it may be one of the tactics of law enforcement to get evidence against the defendant. However, keep in mind that you are under no legal obligation to take this test during a criminal case in Virginia.
Even if the police tell you taking a lie detector test is mandatory, you are fully within your rights to refuse this test at any stage of the criminal justice process. The best solution is to politely decline to participate until you consult with an experienced criminal attorney at Naum Estevez, PLLC.
Knowing Your Rights
Currently, the police rarely use polygraph tests compared to the past years. However, they can still request you to take one after being arrested. While investigators can pressure you into taking it, it is not mandatory to accept a polygraph test, even if you have been charged with underage drinking.
The problem is – many people don’t know their legal rights. When the police officers try to pressure someone into taking a polygraph, the person in question may assume refusing to take it is not an option.
Knowing your legal rights is crucial, and you shouldn’t be scared to assert them. Your refusal to take a lie detector test cannot be used against you in court. Also, taking this test won’t benefit you in any way, and it won’t increase your chances of winning the case.