There is a common misconception out there that I have consistently (about 100% of the time) encountered in criminal defendants (or soon-to-be criminal defendants) that (1) taking a polygraph/ “lie detector test” can prevent their being charged with a crime if they “pass”; and (2) that if they fail the test, the results are not admissible in court.
Let me quickly and humanely put these myths to rest. If you take a polygraph test in West Virginia, your local Andy Griffith Sheriff, or your local friendly West Virginia State Police officer will NOT be giving you the test. They will be bringing in a professional conviction machine in to convict you. What I mean is this. There are various state police officers who specialize in giving polygraphs.
The investigating officer, wherever he may be, convinces a gullible suspect into proving that he is innocent by taking a polygraph. The expert then arrives, and has the suspect sign various papers, saying that he or she understands his rights (the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, etc.) as well as the polygraph process. Then the suspect is asked various questions. Of course, the suspect fails. The the expert polygrapher/interrogator asks, “why do you think you failed?” Then everything the suspect says thereafter, the officer puts into his official report and thereafter testifies to at the trial, if necessary. In all likelihood, the trial never took place because the anticipated testimony of the polygrapher was enough to force a plea.
So understand this: the results of the polygraph indeed are not admissible against you. However, everything you say “can and will be used against you in a court of law.” It’s a trick. It’s not about the results, they are irrelevant. If the cops weren’t convinced you were guilty you wouldn’t be there. It’s all about obtaining a statement from you.
I have lost clients before because I refused to allow them to take polygraphs. They think that they can take them and pass them and prevent charges from ever being filed against them. The cops tell them, don’t listen to that attorney, I want to help you, he’s going to get you charged. Then guess what, they do it anyways and convict themselves.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.