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Could you be convinced you committed a crime that never happened?

“You need attorney immediately” is not just a marketing tool for criminal defense lawyers. It is a warning that anyone charged with a crime must heed. The need arises well before prosecutors have filed formal charges against you. It arises the moment that you suspect you are under investigation for a crime.

The problem of false confessions is only one reason why it is so important to have an attorney on your side in any communications with police or prosecutors. It is at this point in which you are probably thinking, “I would never confess to a crime I did not commit.” It is safe to say that most be do not intend to confess, so how does it happen?

The Association for Psychological Science published a research project in the journal Psychological Science that shows the susceptibility of our memories. The goal was for researchers to convince college students that they committed a crime that never happened. Those researchers succeeded in a matter of hours.

Researchers got a little help from caregivers who told them real stories and details about the students’ lives when they were about 11 to 14 years old. The researchers then told the students a true story and a false story, filling the false story with a few truths about the students’ lives at the time. The students then repeated the stories in three 40-minute interviews with about a week between sessions.

Thirty of the students were told a false story about a crime they committed, some as serious as assault with a weapon. By the end of the third session, 71 percent of those students were convinced they had committed the offense.

The techniques the researchers used are accepted tactics used by police in interrogations and investigations in Missouri every day. Police do not even have to cross the line to confuse people about the details of the investigation. Does this study convince you about the need for a lawyer?

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