can i refuse a lie detector test

UPDATED: Jun 9, 2009

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can i refuse a lie detector test

4 days ago the store where i work as a manager was robbed. it was an inside job, the doors were left unlock and the safe was also left open. i am not a suspect, but they want me to take a lie detector test. should i have an attorney present when i speak to the police? There are 5 other people that have access to the safe.

Asked on June 9, 2009 under Criminal Law, Michigan


M.S., Member, Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

You should not take a lie detector test, especially without an attorney present.  It works like this:  The police need probable cause to arrest you for any crime.  Moreover, polygraph tests are not conclusive.  Therefore, if the police already have probable cause to arrest you prior to taking the polygraph test, they will do so regardless of your success or failure with respect to the test.  Thus, if the police have probable cause to arrest you and you pass the test, that will not negate probable cause -- the police may just interpret it as a false negative.  However, if the police do not have probable cause to arrest you but then you fail the test, the failed test result MAY give the police probable cause to arrest you.  What this means, in practical terms, is that taking a polygraph test will do very little to exonerate you, but can potentially be used to incriminate you, even with a false positive.  However, since these are serious accusations I suggest that you consult with and/or retain a skilled criminal defense attorney prior to making any further decisions (or having any more conversations with the police) with respect to this matter.  After discussing the specific facts of this matter with a criminal defense attorney, he or she will be able to more specifically advise you with respect to the best course of action in this particular instance.  Thus, in some limited situations a criminal defense attorney may, in fact suggest taking a polygraph test under certain circumstances.  Regardless, you should consult with and/or retain a criminal defense attorney at your earliest convenience.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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