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Can a Polygraph Test Be Used to Prove Your Innocence in a Criminal Defense Case?

Jeff Cole
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan & Cole

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You were eager to take a lie detector test after you were arrested. You were innocent, and a polygraph test could only benefit your case. While you’re waiting on the results, you’re wondering how much weight the polygraph evidence will be given in court. Can the technology be used to bolster your case?

How to Use Polygraph Results for Criminal Defense

There are many ways to use the results of a polygraph test in a criminal case, most of which depend on who is submitting to the examination. Many different people involved in a criminal case may be asked to submit to polygraph tests, including:

  • Witnesses. If a prosecutor’s witness performs poorly on a polygraph, the judge and jury are less likely to believe his testimony in court. On the other hand, defense witnesses who pass polygraph tests improve their credibility.
  • Victims. Even in cases where an offender acknowledges wrongdoing, a victim may exaggerate details of the case in an attempt to increase sentencing. A polygraph test can be used to call a victim’s story into question, which can lead to suppression of unfavorable evidence.
  • Defendants. Polygraph tests can be extremely useful during plea bargaining and sentencing negotiations. Clients who are overconfident in their ability to “beat the rap” may be moved to accept a plea if they discover that the police officer passed the polygraph test, while the defendant has failed. On the other hand, a defendant who passed a polygraph test is in a better bargaining position against the prosecutor.
  • Police. Any statement you give on a polygraph helps prove the authenticity of your version of events. If you say that a police officer was forceful with you, and the police officer wavers on the question during his polygraph test, the prosecution is more likely to offer a plea or drop the charges.

Defendants should be aware that the results of a police polygraph are considered admissible evidence. Any incriminating statements made during the examination are also admissible in court. If you willingly took a polygraph test after an arrest in South Dakota, contact Zimmer, Duncan and Cole, LLP today at 888-733-2992 and we will explain your legal options.


Category: Criminal Defense


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