W.D.Okla.: Facebook warrant for all content not overbroad; didn’t have to limit to communications and messages

The search warrant for defendant’s Facebook was not overbroad, and it didn’t have to be limited to communications and messages. It could be for the entirety of the account for the relevant period. United States v. Varnell, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84122 (W.D. Okla. May 18, 2018)

Defendant asserts that the Facebook warrant was overboard. Specifically, defendant contends that the information sought is far broader than the claims in this case and is untethered to the crime being investigated, and the warrant did nothing to constrain the government’s discretion in searching or seizing information, as revealed by the sheer volume of Facebook records disclosed to the defense. Defendant further contends that the warrant should have been limited to communications and messages.

Having carefully reviewed the parties’ submissions, and based upon the totality of the circumstances, the Court finds that the Facebook warrant was not overbroad. Specifically, the Court finds that it is reasonable to believe that defendant communicated with others online, unknown to the FBI, and that defendant conducted some of his research through Facebook. Further, the Court finds that the time and location of defendant when the Facebook account is accessed can corroborate evidence and beliefs of the agents concerning defendant’s actions during the investigation and reveal other electronic devices that might have been utilized in the crime. Additionally, defendant has placed his state of mind at issue, particularly in light of the statement given by defendant’s guardians, and the Court finds that the information sought from Facebook could provide evidence regarding defendant’s state of mind, including evidence regarding defendant’s mental state since the alleged onset of his mental health issues, and his predisposition to commit the crime.

Accordingly, the Court finds that the evidence obtained through the Facebook search warrant should not be suppressed on the basis that the warrant was overbroad.

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