Requirement to Take a Polygraph Examination

A prosecutor or law enforcement agent cannot require a person to submit to a polygraph examination in a criminal case. A defendant may choose to do so voluntarily, but this should only occur on the advice of counsel, and with their attorney present. In most situations, a defense attorney will advise against a polygraph examination under these circumstances.

In Florida, the only time a polygraph examination is required is when an individual is charged in state court with a sex offense. A risk assessment is conducted to determine if the individual could potentially reoffend and this process includes a polygraph examination. The risk assessment is not an admission of guilt, and an experienced criminal defense attorney often uses the results as a plea bargaining tool. Polygraph examinations are also required by participants in Florida’s Sex Offender Probation Program.

Use of Polygraph Examinations in Florida State Courts

Skilled criminal defense lawyers use polygraph examinations results to get charges against their clients reduced or  dismissed. The process begins when the client  takes a private polygraph examination in their attorney’s office. If the examination results  show that the person was not deceptive, the attorney will take these results to  the prosecutor and use them    to negotiate a positive outcome. As a direct result  of presenting positive polygraph examination results, attorneys have been able to secure dropped or dismissed charges on very challenging cases, including when the defendant was innocent. Expert criminal defense attorneys understand when to use this strategy to best represent their clients.

A defense attorney rarely informs the prosecutor that the defendant is participating in polygraph examination because the process is a sliding scale, meaning that even if the person is truthful, the test results might not reflect this. If the results aren’t as favorable as the lawyer would prefer, they are not disclosed to the prosecutor or the judge. A lawyer will never disclose anything that could potentially hurt his or her client.

Use of Polygraph Examinations in Federal Court

Generally, polygraph examinations are not admissible in federal court, but a recent US District Court judge in Tampa ruled that, under very limited circumstances, polygraph examination results are admissible. This means that the results can be used in court to present, validate or verify an individual’s statements to law enforcement, or his or her accounts of the events that occurred. The attorney it that case was able to secure a very favorable result for the defendant.

Even when the results are not admissible, polygraph examination results can be used to defend individuals who are being investigated by federal authorities such as the DEA, FBI, ATF, and the Social Security Administration. When the results of the exam are positive and the defendant showed that their answers to the questions were not deceptive, they can be used to get charges reduced or dismissed.  

Select the Best Examiner

To achieve the best outcome for a client, it is important to select the right polygraph examiner. Polygraph examiners who are former federal agents, such as former FBI agents, will have much more weight with prosecutors than a person who has a certificate to perform the test but no law enforcement experience. The goal is to present the best examination results possible, and that includes using the most credible examiners. This strategy can help get a defendant’s charges dropped, dismissed or reduced before ever going to court, or even during trial, in both federal and state courts.

Board certified criminal defense attorney Ben Stechschulte, often uses polygraph examinations as part of his defense strategy for appropriate clients. His polygraph examiners are former FBI agents and, when the results are favorable, he has achieved very exceptional outcomes for his clients. Mr. Stechschulte cannot guarantee positive results for everyone he represents, but he will apply his expertise to best defend his clients. Contact us to learn more and schedule a free consultation.