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Writs of Habeas Corpus Petitions (California)

Prisoners who believe they are being unlawfully detained in California have the right to file a habeas corpus petition with the California state courts to request a writ ordering that they be released from their imprisonment or to receive some other requested relief, e.g. a change in their imprisonment conditions. California prisoners also have a right to pursue a habeas corpus petition through the federal courts, but, in most cases, it is appropriate to pursue the California habeas corpus petition. If successful, the court could potentially order the release of the inmate.

Petitions for a writ of habeas corpus are outside of the direct appeals process after a conviction, and so may be pursued even if other appeal efforts have failed. They may also be pursued when an inmate is not necessarily appealing the conviction but is requesting relief from prison conditions or from a sentence that is unconstitutional.

These petitions present great challenges, and should include specific supporting facts to be successful, which means that potential filers are encouraged to work with experienced counsel to determine whether they are eligible to file, assess the best strategies for relief, review trial records and other evidence to collect supporting material for the petition, draft and file the petition, and present compelling arguments to the court reviewing the petition.

At The Appellate Law Firm, we represent inmates in handling all matters related to writs of habeas corpus petitions in California, including assessing whether direct appeals or habeas corpus petition appeals are appropriate for our clients, and taking the necessary legal action on our clients’ behalf.

The Steps in a California Habeas Corpus Petition

The first step in a potential habeas corpus action is to determine whether the inmate is eligible to file a petition and whether doing so is the appropriate action to take. Our office works with clients to determine whether there are other procedural steps to be taken first prior to filing the petition or whether a direct appeal of the conviction may be the proper next step (our office represents California defendants in appeals as well).

If a petition for a writ of habeas corpus petition is appropriate, the next significant step will be to collect the supporting evidence that indicates that a client is being unlawfully held by government authorities. There is a wide range of grounds for a successful petition, including:

  • The inmate did not have effective assistance of counsel at trial
  • The judge overseeing the trial made constitutional errors
  • Improper evidence was admitted against the defendant
  • Jurors acted in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights at trial
  • Prosecutors violated the defendant’s constitutional rights
  • The court did not have jurisdiction over the defendant
  • The inmate was otherwise not provided constitutional rights to defend himself
  • New evidence has been found which points towards innocence
  • The prison conditions the inmate faces are unconstitutional
  • The inmate is being kept in prison past the time at which he should be released

Once this information is collected, it will be presented in the petition for relief submitted to the court. The government will have an opportunity to dispute the statements made in the petition, and the court may then hold a hearing at which both sides will present arguments to the court, after which time the court will make its decision regarding whether to grant the petition.

Legal Assistance With Habeas Corpus Petitions

If you believe you have been wrongly imprisoned, whether as a result of an unfair outcome in a state or federal criminal case or due to some other government action, you may be eligible to pursue your release via a habeas corpus petition. The Appellate Law Firm is focused on the civil and criminal appeals process in Washington and California and in pursuing relief on behalf of wrongfully imprisoned inmates. Feel free to contact Mr. Parker today for a no obligation 30 minute consultation to discuss your circumstances.

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