Using a Polygraph Test in a Child Protective Services Case
The law in Texas is very clear, polygraph tests are NOT admissible in court. Not only are the results of a polygraph inadmissible in a court, but the mere mention that a person has taken a polygraph is also not allowed in Texas courts.
What is a polygraph?
Polygraphs, commonly referred to as "lie detector tests", do not actually detect whether a person tells a lie or the truth. Instead the polygraph machine measures and records breathing, blood pressure, pulse, and skin conductivity while a person is asked a series of questions. The machine operates on the premise that a person's body will produce different physiological responses depending on whether they give a truthful or a deceptive answer.
The scientific community for the most part does not approve of polygraph tests for lie detection, because ultimately the results are based upon the opinion of the person administering the test. Because of the chance for false positive results for people are actually innocent, courts have refused to allow polygraph tests to be discussed in court.
Using a polygraph in a CPS case.
So, if a court will never actually hear about a polygraph test being taken or the results of such test, why would a CPS defense attorney ever use one for a CPS case?
Often times a CPS case will boil down to either an accusation from a child, or inference from a child's injury. A person can be accused of child abuse based purely on a child's imagination or vengeance (I am not say it is always these things, just that it can be). And likewise a person can have their children removed from their custody based only on the fact that their child is injured and they cannot explain how the injury happened.
When these cases are brought against parents, they can be almost impossible to disprove. All a parent can do is continue to protest their innocence and hope that someone involved in the case, be it either the investigator, the police, or the judge believe their stories.
When I have clients come in with these types of cases, my strategy is always to quickly mount the most aggressive defense I can put together. The
timeline of how to win a CPS case is very condensed if you want to try and avoid a year long ordeal involving a full-blown CPS service plan. One of the primary weapons I have to try and shape the opinion of the decision makers in a CPS case, is a polygraph test.
I have a very highly credentialed polygraphist that I use to perform the tests on my clients. His background is in law enforcement and he is licensed by the State of Texas. Since a polygraph test is only as good as the person who is reading it, it is important to use someone that will be respected by the people we are providing the test results to in the case.
The first priority in any CPS case is to convince CPS that there is no merit to the accusations against my clients. If I fail in that area, I still want to try and convince the lawyers that represent CPS that my clients do not pose a threat to their children and the kids should be returned, before rushing to the court for a hearing. It is during both of these junctures that I can attempt to persuade CPS using my client's polygraph test results.
First, the fact that my client has come forward and refuted the allegations, and on his own volition agreed to take a "lie detector" test, helps show how serious we are about our innocence. Second, a well written polygraph report explain the methodology and testing safeguards which explain why my client has "passed" the polygraph test, can do wonders in convincing the CPS decision makers to reevaluate their case.
Should Every Case Use a Polygraph?
There are many reason a case may not be a good candidate for a polygraph. First, costs may be a factor. The average polygraph examination cost is $1000. After missing work for extended periods of time and having to retain a lawyer, the costs can be prohibitive. Second, not every case will have clear cut actions or inactions alleged in the complaint. If the question in the case is not whether a client has committed an act, but whether the client intended to commit the act or had malicious intent, polygraph examinations do not perform well in accurately detecting truth from deception. Lastly, the act of taking a polygraph is extrememly stressful. I find that some of my clients react so poorly to these types of stressful envirpoments, that their bodies exhibit signs that the machine may capture as decption, even when they are telling the whole truth.
So although a polygraph test or its results will never make it into the courtroom, they can be great tools for a experienced CPS defense lawyer to use when putting together your best defense. But, that same experienced lawyer will also be able to decide if using a polygraph at all is in the client's best interest.
If you are faced with a removal of your children by Child Protective Services, then you need to call or email Dennis M Slate, a top Houston CPS defense lawyer, today!
Here at the Slate Law Firm, we offer a full range of
Child Protective Servces Defense including cases involving
CPS adoption representation,
CPS Parental Rights Termiination,
Foster Family representation,
Relative placement repesentation, and
CPS sanctions hearings. We have
3 Houston area locations including Deer Park, Houston, and Porter, Texas. Call our offices today and we can set an appointment with an attorney: (281) 476-9447 or