Polygraph Examination Declared Unconstitutional

Filed under: Criminal Law, News Tags: by Liz @ August 3, 2009

New technology has allowed for new treatment methods for probationers, including the use of polygraph examinations.  When used appropriately, they can be a useful tool to help the reformation of offenders, especially sex offenders.  But, what happens when the polygraph examination goes too far?  What happens when it is simply a tool to gather information about past criminal conduct?

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has issued an opinion in a case handled by Elizabeth L. Lippy that polygraph examinations that are used to gather information about offenses other than those that the Defendant has plead guilty to or been found guilty of are unconstitutional.  In other words, because the questions posed to Defendant were about his sexual history that did not pertain to the charge to which he plead guilty, the polygraph was unconstitutional.

The opinion is attached in a PDF format if you are interested in reading it in its’ entirety.  Should you have any questions about sex offender treatment, sex offenses, or other criminal offenses, please feel free to contact Fairlie & Lippy, P.C.

Opinion deeming polygraph unconstitutional


  1. James Stallworth says:

    I am a retired polygraph examiner. I was specifically taught to be specific in your questions. No American Polygraph Association Approved Poloygraph Examiner would ever violate anyone’s rights. My records were always on file for the scrutiny of the Alabama Board of Polygraph Examiners.

  2. In the containment approach to treatment of sexual offenders, polygraph exams are used extensively to determine the sexual history of the offender for treatment purposes. It is not the intent of the examiner to collect information of sufficient detail from which new criminal charges could arise. In fact, examiners must caution offenders not to disclose detailed information about prior sexual offenses, but the general information about the offenses are necessary for the proper development of treatment and assessment programs for post-conviction sex offenders.

  3. Ross M. Bruner says:

    It’s obvious what it is meant to be. It is also obvious that people are misusing and abusing this and all sex offender laws under the guise of “Treatment”. Labotomy was also used as “Treatment” and so was cocaine and Heroin but as you can see those didnt work out well. These so called Treatment methods are just a “Licence to abuse”, just as all punitive laws are. Its so easy to punish and judge and ridicule. No one can actually Help so they destroy. And they think its okay to destroy and abuse because of the popular belief of one nation.
    Its not a question of morality.

  4. Tusau says:

    I was found guilty of possession of child pornography. I had two polygraph tests that said I never had any negative contacts with children. My therapist has also said this in a letter to the courts along with extensive psychological testing that said the same thing.

    My question is do I have to answer other questions during a polygraph test that are not related to my charge?

  5. Christopher says:

    I agree 100% with the comments by Ross M. Bruner above. We have fast transcended from being a nation that is governed by a rule of law into being a nation that is runamuck over law by circumventing such under the false guise of calling it “therapeutic.” I have found no evidence in our federal constitution that waives a citizens rights when the deprivation of rights is deemed to be therapeutic by those who prefer citizens not have rights in the first place as such impedes their ability to dominate by force.

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