If you face a criminal conviction, but you believe that you were wrongly accused or your rights were violated, you could fight the conviction. There are a few ways to do this, one of which is called a writ of habeas corpus. On this page, I will discuss the writ of habeas corpus in more detail. If you think that this is the right option for you or a loved one, learn more here.
What is a Writ of Habeas Corpus?
Habeas corpus is essentially a safeguard against unjust incarceration. It started in the 13th Century in England as a way to protect citizens from being imprisoned by the King for indefinite periods of time or for no reason. Under habeas corpus, a person who is imprisoned can request to be seen by the court. The court then has to give a legitimate reason for the person’s imprisonment. If they cannot, the prisoner can be released. Alternatively, the prisoner can argue the charges levied against them in the hopes of release from their confinement.
The court will hold a habeas corpus meeting where the government and the inmate can provide evidence for their cases. After hearing both sides, a judge can make a few different determinations. First, they may determine that there is reason to imprison the defendant, and they will have to go back to jail. Alternatively, the judge can decide that the defendant’s sentence should be reduced. Another option is that a judge can order the defendant released from prison.
Habeas corpus is not available to every prison inmate in every situation. There are some limitations and a procedure for accepting claims for habeas corpus. In many situations, inmates can’t petition for habeas corpus on the same issue multiple times. You can contact our office to learn more about situations in which you can or cannot file for habeas corpus.
Habeas Corpus vs. Pardon
A writ of habeas corpus is different than a pardon in many ways. Filing a petition for habeas corpus means that you are arguing that your incarceration is unjust. Essentially, you are arguing that you did not commit the crime you were convicted of, or that your rights were violated during your court case. If a judge agrees with your argument, they might petition to vacate your conviction, which means that the conviction will be overturned and you will be released from prison. Alternatively, winning a habeas corpus case could simply mean that you were able to prove that your trial was biased or unjust and that you deserve a new trial. Ultimately, you may face the same consequences, but you will be able to participate in a fair trial, as is your right as a U.S. citizen.
On the other hand, a pardon is the erasure of your criminal record. You are not arguing that you did not commit the crime you were convicted of, or that your rights have been violated. You accept your conviction and abide by your penalty, but ask the government to “pardon” your crimes so that there won’t be a record of your crimes anymore. Pardons happen long after a sentence for a crime is served, while habeas corpus petitions happen while the person is still incarcerated.
If you think that you or a loved one want to file a writ of habeas corpus, contact our office. It is much easier for these petitions to be accepted if a judge sees that a lawyer is working on the case. For more information, contact us.