Frequently Asked Questions about Polygraphs
Q. When are Polygraphs used?
A: The Santa Barbara Police Department conducts pre-employment polygraph examinations for most positions at the police department. They are conducted to verify information, qualifications, past criminal or drug history, if any.
The Santa Barbara Police Department also conducts criminal polygraphs on suspects or persons to find out if they committed a particular crime or to exonerate them from suspicion of criminal activity.
Q. How does the Polygraph work?
A: The polygraph works off of physiological changes, things that are going on inside your body that a person has no control over. The physiological changes are recorded on a chart and the results are analyzed to show whether or not someone is being truthful or deceptive to the questions that were asked.
Q. Is a Polygraph the same as a "Lie Detector"?
A: Yes. The polygraph instrument is a scientific diagnostic instrument which is often called a "Lie Detector'. However, it would be more appropriate to call it a "truth verifier".
Q. How accurate is a Polygraph?
A: The polygraph has been proven to be up to 98% accurate, a figure much higher than most other scientific tests. There are times when a test is termed "inconclusive," meaning that no decision is offered to determine the truthfulness of the subject. This is neither a help nor a hindrance to the subject, as many other factors can influence the Pre-testability of the subject, such as recent emotional trauma or medication.
Q. What if I feel guilty about taking the test? Will it affect the outcome?
A: Many innocent people feel guilty about taking a polygraph exam. The Highly Trained Examiner will reassure and relax the subject. Nervousness will not show an innocent person to be guilty.
Q. Is a Polygraph admissible in court?
A: Generally, the answer is “No”. However, if there is a stipulation by the defense and prosecution to admit the results, the court will then consider the results of the polygraph. The Santa Barbara Police Department often conducts polygraph examinations that are requested by both the prosecution and agreed to by defense counsel to verify the truth on many cases.
For more information about polygraph visit www.polygraph.org
[Police Department Homepage] [Police Investigative Division]