Do Sex Offenders Have to Take Polygraphs?

Yes.  Polygraphs exams, or lie detector tests, are used by most federal districts to ensure that sex offenders are in compliance with the requirements of their supervision or treatment program.

They are administered periodically, usually every six months, and generally last between 1.5-2 hours.

The examination technique will be explained to your satisfaction prior to the onset of the examination and a detailed interview will be conducted by the polygraph examiner.  Based on that interview, the examiner will develop the questions for the actual test.  All the questions that will be asked during the polygraph examination will be read and reviewed with you, and you will be given an opportunity to ask for clarification of these questions before the examination is administered. Complete honesty during this phase is recommended since the exam will likely expose any dishonesty. While an admission of guilt may still result in consequences, it is generally more favorable than a “deceptive” result on the exam.

During the exam itself you will be connected to monitoring devices that will measure and record physiological responses such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing patterns, and galvanic skin response while you are asked and respond to specific yes or no questions based on that initial interview.

In addition to exposing violations, polygraph exams serve as an effective deterrent against non-compliance.

While polygraph results alone may not be used to revoke supervision, they may be used to increase the level of supervision, modify treatment plans, or generate a separate investigation.


For more information on polygraph exams visit the U.S. Courts’ website:


For more information on Sex Offender Registry requirements visit