Lie Detector Tests Used In Courts

People Wrongfully Assume Lie Detector Tests Are Not Admissable In Court

Admissibility of Lie Detector Tests

Lie detector test results (or psychophysiological detection of deception examinations) are admissible in some federal circuits and some states. More often, such evidence is admissible where the parties have agreed to their admissibility before the examination is given, under terms of a stipulation.

The United States Supreme Court has yet to rule on the issue of admissibility, so the rules in federal circuits vary considerably.

The Supreme Court has also held that a Miranda warning before a lie detector test is sufficient to allow admissibility of a confession that follows an examination, [Wyrick v. Fields, 103 S. Ct. 394 (1982).] In 1993, the Supreme Court removed the restrictive requirements of the 1923 Frye decision on scientific evidence and said Rule 702 requirements were sufficient, [Daubert v. Mettell Dow Pharmaceutcals, 113 S.ct. 2786.]Daubert did not involve lie detection, per se, as an issue, as Frye did, but it had a profound effect on admissibility of lie detectro test results as evidence, when proffered by the defendants under the principles embodied in the Federal Rules of Evidence expressed in Daubert, see [United States v. Posado (5th Cir. 1995) WL 368417.] Some circuits already have specific rules for admissibility, such as the 11th Circuit which specifies what must be done for lie detector test results to be admitted over objection, or under stipulation, [United States v. Piccinonna 885 F.2d 1529 (11th Cir. 1989).]

Other circuits have left the decision to the discretion of the trial judge. The rules that states and federal circuits generally follow in stipulated admissibility were established in [State v. Valdez, 371 P.2d 894 (Arizona, 1962).] The rules followed when lie detector test results are admitted over objection of opposing counsel usually cite [State v. Dorsey, 539 P.2d 204 (New Mexico, 1975).] Primarily because of Daubert, as well as the impact the other cited cases have had, lie detector test admissibility is changing in many states. Many appeals, based on the exclusion of lie detector test evidence at trial are now under review by appellate courts.

Representative case citations are provided for reference:


Clements v. State, 474 So.2d 695 (1984).
Green v. Am. Cast Iron, 464 so.2d 294 (1984).


State v. Valdez, 91 Ariz.. 274, 371, P.2d 894 (1962).
State v. Molina, 117 Ariz. 4541 573 P.2d 528 (App.1977).


Hays v. State, 767 S.W.2d 525 (1989).


People v. Houser, 85 Cal.App.2d 686, 193 P.2d 937 (1948)
Robinson v. Wilson, 44 Cal.App.3d 92, 118 Cal.Rptr. 569 (1974).
Witherspoon v. Superior Court, 133 Cal.App.3rd 24 (1982)


Williams v. State, 378 A.2nd 117 (1977).


State v. Chambers, 240 Ga. 76, 239 SE.2d 324 (1977).
Miller v. State, 380 S.E.2d 690 (1989).


State v. Fain, 774 P.2d 252 (1989).


Barnes v. State, 537 N.E.2d 489 (1989).
Davidson v. State, 558 N.E.2d 1077 (1990).


State v. McNamara, 104 N.W.2d 568 (1960).
Haldeman v. Total Petroleum, 376 N.W.2d 98 (1985).


State v. Roach, 570P.2d 1082 (1978).


Corbett v. State, 584 P.2d 704 (1978).

New Jersey:

State v. McDavitt, 297 A.2d 849 (1972).
State v. McMahon 524 A.2d 1348 (1986).

New Mexico:

State v. Dorsey, 539 P.2ed 204 (1975).

North Dakota:

State v. Newman, 409 N.W.2d 79 (1987).


Moss v. Nationwide, 493 N.E.2d 969 (1985).
State v. Souel, 372 N.E.2d 1318 (1978).


State v. Jenkins, 523 P.2d 1232 (1974).
State v. Rebetevano, 681 P.2d 1265 (1984).


State v. Grigsby, 647 P.2d 6 (1982).


Cullin v. State, 565 P.2d 445 (1977).

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