CCA Reverses Course on Polygraph Admissibility

By March 12, 2012Sex Crimes

Leonard v. StateAlthough polygraph tests are used from time to time in criminal justice matters, they have always been inadmissible at court because they are inherently unreliable.

HERE, Sarah Roland, a Denton County Criminal Defense Attorney, informs us about a troubling opinion from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  A turning of the tide, if you will.  In Leonard v. State, the CCA overturned the 11th Court of Appeals (Eastland) and held that a polygraph test was admissible during a probation revocation adjudication against a person that was serving probation for a sex offense.

Because adjudication hearings are administrative proceedings, in which there is no jury and the judge is not determining guilt of the original offense, we hold that the results of polygraph exams are admissible in revocation hearings if such evidence qualifies as the basis for an expert opinion under Texas Rules of Evidence 703 and 705(a).

While the CCA is not saying that polygraphs will be admissible in an actual criminal trial, this “opinion is troubling,” as Sarah puts it.  I agree.