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Can Polygraph evidence be used in Court in Ireland?

This is a question we are often asked and often there is a great deal of misinformation around the subject. Not surprising really, given that it is only in the last two years that polygraph examiners have been based in Ireland and still many people are not aware of this.

There is a general view that polygraph evidence cannot be submitted or used in court in Ireland. This is not true. There is no reason what-so-ever why polygraph evidence cannot be submitted as evidence. However it will be the decision of the judge in each case to decide whether or not it can be admitted and how much weight should be placed on this evidence. In this respect polygraph evidence is no difference to any other piece of evidence.

What you do need, if you are considering taking a polygraph test, which you want to be used in court, is a solicitor who is prepared to make the effort to put a strong case forward as to why the evidence should be admitted, if this is met by any resistance from the opposing legal team. For example, under European law you have a right to call witnesses in criminal law cases; your solicitor needs to use the relevant laws to ensure your polygraph evidence is admitted.

We would also recommend that you make the judge aware as early as possible of your intention to admit the polygraph evidence, to avoid any last minute confusion. You will need to call the examiner who conducted your test as a witness; failure to do this is likely to result in the judge placing little or no weight on this evidence in the absence of an examiner in court to answer any questions the judge may have.

If you consult a solicitor who either tells you polygraph evidence is not admissible, that’s it’s “a waste of time” or who is not prepared to explore the option, then perhaps you have to question whether that solicitor is the right one for you. As polygraph examiners we have been called as witnesses in criminal, civil and family law cases in Ireland, so we can categorically declare that polygraph evidence is being used in courts in Ireland.

Also consider the fact that the power of polygraph evidence can also be found in negotiations and case building outside of the courtroom. In the USA, polygraph evidence has been used to diminish the credibility of the opposing team’s witnesses, raise doubts about the alleged victim’s truthfulness and convince the prosecutors that charges are unfounded.

Polygraph evidence, like any other evidence admitted in our courts today is not infallible. It will rarely win a case on entirely its own merits, but as a component of an entire defence presentation or used to support other evidence it can mean the difference between a guilty and a not guilty verdict.