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What is a Habeas Corpus Petition?

If you or a loved one has been convicted of a criminal offense, you may have heard that an appeal or a habeas corpus petition may be able to help get the conviction overturned. However, few people understand what a writ of habeas corpus does or how it differs from a traditional appeal. The experienced attorneys at The Appellate Law Firm are here to help explain the differences between these options following a trial court conviction and advise you on the best options for your case. Call or contact us today if you are asking, “What is a habeas corpus petition?”

Differences Between a Writ and an Appeal

Both appeals and writs are part of the appellate process after a civil or criminal trial. The major difference between an appeal and a writ is the purpose behind using the appellate process. The purpose of an appeal is to object to or correct an error that is on the trial record that substantially impacted the outcome of the case. The appellate court cannot consider any outside evidence beyond what is in the trial record during an appeal and must consider only issues of law or fact that happened at trial. 

The purpose of a writ during the appellate process is to have the appellate court consider evidence outside the record of the trial court or for issues that require immediate attention. Examples of an appropriate use of a writ include claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and unlawful imprisonment. Writs, or petitions, of habeas corpus are utilized to challenge the conditions or legality of a person’s imprisonment.

Writs of Habeas Corpus

A writ, or petition, for habeas corpus literally translates to a petition to produce the body. When a writ of habeas corpus is presented to the court, it orders the person or agency holding the petitioner to deliver that person to the court. Both state and federal courts can hear writs of habeas corpus, and in many cases an imprisoned person must try their petition in state court first before petitioning the federal court.

A state habeas corpus petition requests release from a state jail or prison, or a change in the conditions of incarceration, upon proof that the petitioner is being held in violation of a state law or constitutional right. A federal habeas corpus petition requests that the petitioner be released from either state or federal prison due to a violation of a U.S. Constitutional right. The purpose of a habeas corpus petition is to address a legal issue that takes place outside the trial transcript, unlike an appeal, which ultimately resulted in the loss of the petitioner’s freedom. An experienced appellate attorney can review your case and advise on whether an appeal or a writ is best for your situation.

What is a Habeas Corpus Petition? Contact an Experienced Attorney for Help  

If you would like to speak with an experienced appellate law attorney about filing an appeal or submitting a writ to the appellate court, call the office or contact us today at The Appellate Law Firm to schedule a free consultation of your case.