Polygraph Unit: FAQs

The goal of the polygraphist is to determine the truth.  He or she must give careful attention to every person they are examining.  Every person has the right to be examined with dignity and impartiality.

Q:  What does a polygraph measure?
A:  A polygraph examination consists of three separate and distinct phases.  The "Pre-Test" interview, the "In-Test" phase and the "Post Test" interview.
During the pre-test interview, the polygraphist will explain your legal rights and the voluntary nature of the examination.  Also discussed is your medical, physical and psychological background as well as your knowledge of the investigation (Or other reason for testing) and an explanation on how the instrument works.

The in-test phase is the point where the examiner reviews all of the test questions with you and then will conduct a "Demonstration Test" to help assess your suitability for additional tests.  Several tests will then be conducted which will include the reviewed questions.  There will be no surprise questions on any of the tests.  The examiner will then analyze the results of each test to arrive at an opinion.  All tests adminstered by the Maryland State Police Polygraph Unit shall be "Quality Controlled" meaning that each is also scored independently by another Maryland State Police Polygraph examiner and the Polygraph Unit Director.

During the post-test interview, the examiner will discuss the results of the test and provide you with his/her opinion.

Q:  What if I am telling the truth but I am nervous?
A:  It is normal for an innocent person to be nervous, and the examiner is aware of this.

Q:  I have high blood pressure, won't that look as though I'm lying?
A:  No. While blood pressure is one of the recordings, high blood pressure does not invalidate the results of the test.  If you are currently under a Docter's care for any medical condition, be sure to tell the polygraphist about it.

Q:  Does the test hurt?  Will I get an electrical shock?
A:  No, the test does not hurt.  Also, there is no possibility of your getting an electric shock.  It is most important that during the examination that you are as comfortable as possible.  The only discomfort experienced may be a slight pressure on the arm because of the blood pressure cuff.

Q:  Can I be forced to take the examination?
A:  No. The polygraph is voluntary.  The polygraph examiner requires your cooperation throughout the test.  As a result, it must remain voluntary.  If for any reason you don't wish to take the examination, you may decline.