Paroled sex offenders must submit to lie detector tests as part of the conditions of their release but must be made more clearly aware of their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled Monday in rejecting a challenge to the tests.
Several convicted offenders had argued the tests are unconstitutional, amount to interrogations, and violate their rights against self-incrimination and to have a lawyer present.
The offenders, identified by their initials in court documents, have served their prison sentences and are under parole or community supervision for life. The polygraph tests are used to monitor whether they are complying with their parole conditions.
The 7-0 ruling Monday upheld lower court findings that the tests aren't the same as interrogations and, therefore, don't give the offenders the right to have a lawyer present. The justices noted the machine-generated test results by themselves can't be used to support the filing of criminal charges.
"We conclude that polygraph examinations further the State's interest in ensuring that parolees adhere to the conditions of their PSL or CSL sentence and protect the community from recidivism,'' Justice Faustino Fernandez-Vina wrote. "We find that this interest outweighs the parolees' limited right to privacy.''
The court took issue with the manner in which parolees were informed of their right to remain silent during the tests and what the consequences might be, however.
The court instructed the state Parole Board to revise its regulations to clarify that offenders can invoke their Fifth Amendment rights without consequence if the answer to any question during the examination process could form the basis of an independent criminal investigation.