Frequently Asked Questions About Polygraph


Q. What is a Polygraph?

The term “polygraph” literally means “many writings”. The name refers to the fact that selected physiological variables are simultaneously recorded during an examination and evaluated to determine the physiological responses to specific questions that are asked.  Using specialized components, four signals generated from the human body are recorded. Respiratory activity is recorded by convoluted rubber tubes that are placed over the examinees’ chest and abdomen. Electrical or sweat gland activity is reported by two small sensors attached to the fingers or palm. Cardiovascular activity is recorded by a blood pressure cuff or similar device. Finger Plethysmograph measures blood volume.

Polygraphs are currently in use in three sectors of society for various reasons, and always for the purpose of determining the truthfulness of a client or situation. Individuals, families, therapists and employers utilize the polygraph to verify statements and verify the truth in issues such as infidelity, criminal activities, sex offenses, drug use and addictions, employee theft, and many other matters.

Law Firms and Attorneys use polygraph examinations in the pre-court phase and in civil litigation to determine truth in a client's case, verify a client's truthfulness relative to plea negotiations, to assist in general client control and verification of witness statements. Law courts also mandate polygraph examinations on a regular basis for post conviction sex offenders as part of a Treatment Approach. In addition, U.S. Attorney Offices, District Attorney Offices, Public Defender Offices, Defense Attorneys and Parole & Probation Departments all use polygraph examinations.

Local Police, U.S. Military Branches and Government Agencies such as the FBI, CIA, NSA and Department of Defense all use polygraph examinations for applicant screenings, criminal investigations and matters of national security.

Q. What is a typical polygraph examination like?

At Truth Lab a typical polygraph examination includes the pre-test, a chart collection phase referred to as the in-test, and a data analysis phase. In the pre-test, the polygraph examiner completes required paperwork and provides an introduction to the polygraph instrument and components. During this period, the examiner also discusses why the examinee is taking the polygraph, the test questions that will be asked, and familiarizes the examinee with the testing procedure. During the in-test phase, the polygraph examiner, utilizing a State-of-the-Art Computerized Polygraph system, records a number of charts with various physiological elements while the reviewed questions are presented to the examinee. Following the examination, the examiner analyzes the charts and physiological data and renders a report with the examiner's opinion regarding the truthfulness of the person taking the test.

Q. How quickly can I schedule an examination?

Depending on availability at our office locations, appointments for polygraph examinations can usually be accommodated with short notice. Please call us at either of our offices, listed above.

Q. How quickly are results available?

Depending on who requested the test, results are provided verbally following the examination in office, or sent to the payor, for legal or treatment purposes. Most often, a written report of the examination results will be produced and sent via USPS Priority Mail or E-mail. In certain cases, official reports can be produced immediately following the examination and provided to the client and or examinee.

Q. Are the results and information confidential?

Truth Lab adheres to very strict confidentiality and privacy standards. All information from an examination is kept strictly confidential and private.

Q. What is the minimum age for a polygraph examination?

13 years of age or older.

Q. Are polygraph results admissible in court?

Polygraph results are admissible in some federal circuit courts and some states. More often, polygraph results are admissible when the parties have agreed to their admissibility under terms of a stipulation.
 
Q. What about Voice Stress versus Polygraph?

The United States Department of Defense has stated based on extensive research, that the preponderance of scientific evidence clearly demonstrates the Polygraph is far more accurate at detecting deception than is Voice Stress. No Department of Defense Agency uses Voice Stress. Polygraph is the only lie detection technique directly used by Federal Government Agencies.


The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA) What is EPPA?

On December 27, 1988, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) became law. This federal law established guidelines for polygraph testing and imposed restriction on most private employers. The following is a brief summary of the essential elements of the law.

Who is affected by EPPA?         

This legislation only affects commercial businesses. Local, State and Federal governmental agencies (such as police departments) are not affected by the law, nor are public agencies, such as a school system or correctional institution. In addition, there are exemptions in EPPA for some commercial businesses as follows:


•    Companies under contract with the federal government
•    Companies which manufacturer, distribute or dispense controlled substances
•    Armored Car or Alarm and Security Companies
•    Nuclear or Electrical Power Plants
•    Public Water Works
•    Toxic Waste Disposal

All other commercial companies and businesses can request a current employee to take a polygraph examination or suggest to such a person that a polygraph examination be taken, only when specific conditions have been satisfied. However, the employer cannot require current employees to take an examination, and if an employee refuses a request or suggestion, the employer cannot discipline or discharge the employee based on the refusal to submit to the examination.

How does EPPA affect businesses that are not exempt?

In general, businesses cannot request, suggest or require any job applicant to take a pre-employment polygraph examination. Secondly, businesses can request a current employee to take a polygraph examination or suggest to such a person that a polygraph examination be taken, only when specific conditions have been satisfied. However, the employer cannot require current employees to take and examination, and if an employee refuses a request or suggestion, the employer cannot discipline or discharge the employee based on the refusal to submit to the examination.

Truth Lab Polygraph Services is furnishing the following information, which it believes is in good faith, and conforms with the Department of Labor's Regulations relating to polygraph tests for employees. This information is considered only as a guideline to assist in complying with the Act and Regulations, and Truth Lab is disclaiming any liability in connection therewith.

Employers should develop their own forms, using their own company name, and should also review their final forms through their own legal counsel