What Happens if You Fail a Polygraph Test for Police?

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Whether you are taking the polygraph test for a criminal case or as a job candidate, the experience can be rather intimidating. The fear of not passing the test can negatively affect the overall results.

Since there may be extenuating circumstances that could cause you to fail the test, many law enforcement agencies may give you a second chance. Being overly nervous can give the impression of lying, which is why you want to stay as calm as possible.

Are you wondering what may happen if you fail a polygraph exam for the police? Keep reading to find out.

What Happens if You Fail a Polygraph Test for Police?

Failing a polygraph test for the police can have detrimental results depending on the reason for taking the test. The consequences for failing a test could be anything between not being chosen for a particular law enforcement job or even criminal prosecution.

If you are taking the test as a pre-screening measure for a law enforcement position, a failed polygraph test could end your candidacy. This is because it is a police department's protocol that anyone failing a polygraph test is typically not chosen for the position.

Since police officers need to be trustworthy and found to be above reproach, a failure of a polygraph test can mean not being chosen for the position. While the department may allow you to retake the polygraph test in many cases, it depends on the agency to which you are applying.

If you were taking a polygraph test because you are a suspect in a criminal investigation, this could result in you being accused of the crime. Although a polygraph test is not admissible in a court of law in most states, it can still be used by police to continue their investigation of you.

Reasons You May Be Asked to Take a Polygraph Test for Police

There are many reasons why you may be asked to take a polygraph test for the police. while many of these reasons have nothing to do with criminal investigations, some May.

Whether you are applying for a position with a law enforcement agency or have been accused of a crime, a polygraph test for the police is a good way to prove your innocence. Even though these tests are not admissible in court, law enforcement agencies often use them to eliminate suspects or candidates.

If you are wondering about the most common reasons you may be asked to take a polygraph test for the police, keep reading.

Screening for Employment

It is not uncommon for a place of employment to require a candidate to take a polygraph test before making it to the final rounds. This is especially true in cases where vital confidential documentation may be handled or when large sums of money come into play.

In these cases, whether the business is a private company or a federal state, or local law enforcement agency, a candidate may be required to take a polygraph test as a part of their screening. If the candidate fails the polygraph exam, they could be eliminated as a candidate.

Routine Employment Testing

Some employers require that once you are hired you may be subject to routine employment testing which could include a polygraph exam. In most cases, this occurs when the position you're working in is a matter of National Security and requires you to handle large sums of money.

The employer can use this testing as a means to ensure that you are still a good fit for the position in which you have. should you fail the polygraph exam, you could be terminated from employment.

Criminal Investigations

Another reason you may be subject to a polygraph test for the police is during a criminal investigation. In most cases, if the police suspect that you could withhold information that could be vital to the case, they may ask you to take a polygraph exam.

Even though a polygraph exam is not admissible in a court of law, it could be used to rule you out as a suspect. If you happen to fail this test, you could be subject to further investigation and interrogation by the police.

Common Reasons You May Fail a Polygraph Test

Many people wonder about the most common reasons for failing a polygraph test that you have to take for the police. Many factors may apply when taking a polygraph test and getting through it.

Some of the reasons why people fail a polygraph test are not always because they are being deceptive. Some factors that may affect the results of a polygraph test are feeling anxious and nervous, certain health conditions, and previous traumatic experiences.


If you normally suffer from anxiety, having to take a polygraph exam can cause your anxiety to rise. when this occurs, it may show throughout the polygraph test and result in showing deceptive results.

While not all anxiety is caused by deception, it could be seen by law enforcement as you withholding vital Information. If this occurs, you may want to inform the agency if you do suffer from an anxiety disorder.

Certain Health Conditions

In addition to nervousness and anxiety, certain health conditions could affect the results of your polygraph test. Some of the health conditions that could affect a polygraph test are heart conditions, suffering from chronic pain, respiratory illnesses, and many more.

Keep in mind, if you suffer from any health or other physical condition, it is best to inform the polygraph technician before taking the test. Although results cannot be determined to be from an exact health condition or deception, they may allow you to use other means to prove your innocence.

Previous Traumatic Experiences

Another reason you may fail a polygraph test unintentionally is if you have had a previous traumatic experience with a law enforcement agency. This could be if you've been interrogated before, or have been wrongfully accused of a crime.

The best thing that you can do is to try to stay calm throughout the polygraph test, inform the polygraph technician of any previous trauma, and do your best.

Reference Legal Explanations

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  • "What Happens if You Fail a Polygraph Test for Police?". Legal Explanations. Accessed on July 24, 2024. https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-happens-if-you-fail-a-polygraph-test-for-police/.

  • "What Happens if You Fail a Polygraph Test for Police?". Legal Explanations, https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-happens-if-you-fail-a-polygraph-test-for-police/. Accessed 24 July, 2024

  • What Happens if You Fail a Polygraph Test for Police?. Legal Explanations. Retrieved from https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-happens-if-you-fail-a-polygraph-test-for-police/.