Inked Based Confessions on MySpace

The Defendant, who was being investigated for Social Security Fraud, challenged his confession to Federal agents.  United States v. Morales, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122110 (S.D. Ga. Dec. 17, 2009).  The tip-off that there had been Social Security Fraud?  The Defendant’s MySpace profile.

The Defendant denied any wrongdoing when initially interviewed by Federal agents for Social Security Fraud at his home.  One agent then produced print outs of the Defendant’s Myspace profile, showing the Defendant operating a tattoo parlor from his home. Morales, 2.

The Defendant moved to suppress a statement he signed as “coerced.”  Morales, 6-7. 

The Court found under the totality of the circumstances that there was no coercion in the confession.  The facts showed the investigating agent presented the Defendant photos from his MySpace page that refuted the Defendant’s statement he had not been operating a business.  Morales, 8-9. 

In the words of the Court, “This case comes nowhere near the coercion-based threshold.” Morales, 8.

Bow Tie Thoughts

What is impressive about this case is that Federal agents investigating Social Security Fraud searched a social networking site for evidence.  I believe law enforcement, litigators and Human Resource Departments will have a standard practice of seeking party admissions from social networking sites in all forms of litigation.

Josh Gilliland is a California attorney who focuses his practice on eDiscovery. Josh is the co-creator of The Legal Geeks, which has made the ABA Journal Top Blawg 100 Blawg from 2013 to 2016 and was nominated for Best Podcast for the 2015 Geekie Awards. Josh has presented at legal conferences and comic book conventions across the United States. He also ties a mean bow tie.