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Federal Writs of Habeas Corpus Attorney

Prisoners in custody in California state or federal prison who believe they are being unlawfully imprisoned in violation of their constitutional rights have the right to file a petition at the federal level requesting habeas corpus relief. Generally speaking, petitions for federal writs of habeas corpus claim that a prisoner’s arrest, trial or prison sentence violated constitutional law in some way, thereby making the prisoner’s incarceration unlawful. Such a writ seeks to obtain a specific legal remedy from the court, usually a release from prison, relief from a prison sentence that is unconstitutional, or a change in the conditions of a prisoner’s incarceration. If you are serving a state or federal prison sentence and you wish to challenge the conviction or sentence before a judge, you may be able to file a petition for habeas corpus. There is a statute of limitations for federal writs of habeas corpus, so don’t wait; call Pat Ford Appeals today to learn about your legal options.

Appeals Attorneys for Federal Writs of Habeas Corpus

A federal writ of habeas corpus is a legal remedy available to state and federal prisoners who object to their detention or imprisonment, and in order to be granted, a petition for a writ of habeas corpus must show that the court made a legal or factual error that resulted in the unlawful detention or imprisonment. Habeas corpus is one of the most basic protections that individuals in the United States have against unchecked state or federal power, and it is designed to keep the government from imprisoning people without cause. If you believe you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime or unlawfully imprisoned in state or federal prison, you can petition the court for a writ of habeas corpus, which, if granted, would require your custodian to bring you before the court in order to determine the legality of your imprisonment. If your habeas corpus petition is successful, you could end up being released from custody or having your prison sentence reduced. There are certain filing restrictions and other limitations to federal habeas corpus relief, so if you plan to file a petition for a federal writ of habeas corpus, it is imperative that you have a knowledgeable attorney on your side who can help you navigate the complicated process of filing a federal writ of habeas corpus petition and improve your chances of success.

What is a Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus?

Habeas corpus is a Latin phrase that literally translates to “you have the body,” and a writ of habeas corpus is a court order requiring that a person who has been detained in prison be brought before a judge to determine whether the imprisonment is lawful. A writ of habeas corpus is also a means of challenging the constitutionality of a criminal conviction. There are two different types of federal habeas corpus petitions named for the federal statutes under which they can be found: 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which applies to individuals serving a prison sentence in state court, and 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which applies to individuals serving a prison sentence in federal court. Federal writ of habeas corpus petitions can be filed by prisoners who want to challenge a criminal conviction, a sentence in state prison or in federal prison, or the conditions of their imprisonment in state or federal prison.

Federal Writs of Habeas Corpus for State Prisoners

If you are in custody for a California state crime and your state writ of habeas corpus petition is unsuccessful, you may be able to file a habeas corpus petition in federal court if there are constitutional violations at issue. There are several restrictions that go along with challenging a state sentence with a federal habeas corpus petition, which is why we always recommend enlisting the help of a knowledgeable criminal appeals attorney when pursuing federal habeas corpus relief. First, in order to apply for federal writ of habeas corpus relief for a state prison sentence in California, you must be in custody when the habeas corpus petition is filed. You must also show that you have already exhausted all other possible remedies available under California law, such as a direct criminal appeal and a state writ of habeas corpus petition.

In order for a federal writ of habeas corpus petition to be granted under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which applies to individuals serving a state prison sentence, your criminal conviction or imprisonment must be in some way a violation of federal law or the United States constitution. This law states that federal habeas corpus relief is only available in cases where the state court’s determination:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or

(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

Federal Writs of Habeas Corpus for Federal Prisoners

If you are serving a federal prison sentence for a federal criminal offense and you want to challenge the conviction or the conditions of your imprisonment before a judge, you would file a habeas corpus petition in federal court. The federal statute governing writs of habeas corpus for federal prisoners is 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which states that:

“A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.”

There is one important difference between writ of habeas corpus petitions for state and federal prisoners – the deadline to file a petition. Federal prisoners seeking to obtain federal habeas corpus relief are required to file their petition within one year of the following, whichever is the latest:

(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final;

(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action;

(3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or

(4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.

The Federal Habeas Corpus Process

A petition for a writ of habeas corpus is filed when a person wishes to challenge a decision made by the court that led to his or her imprisonment. If you are convicted of a crime at the state level in California, and you wish to challenge the conviction or sentence, you have the right to appeal to the California Court of Appeal to review the trial court’s decision and determine whether any serious errors were made that influenced the outcome of the trial. If your appeal is denied by the appellate court, you can request to appeal to the Supreme Court of California. If your appeal is unsuccessful at this level, you can then petition for a state writ of habeas corpus to challenge your imprisonment or the conditions of your imprisonment. Once your options in state court have been exhausted, you may have another opportunity to challenge the state court’s errors through a petition for federal habeas corpus, but only for a constitutional violation. On the other hand, if you are convicted of a crime at the federal level, you would first appeal your case to the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit, then to the Supreme Court of the United States, and then proceed to a federal writ of habeas corpus petition if you are unable to overturn the conviction on appeal.

How is Habeas Corpus Different from a Direct Appeal?

A writ of habeas corpus petition is a separate process from the direct criminal appeals process, which gives those convicted of a federal criminal offense and sentenced to prison the right to appeal the conviction or sentence under certain circumstances. For instance, if you were sentenced to an unjust or unfairly long term of imprisonment, or if you were wrongfully convicted of a crime because of serious errors of law made by the trial court, you can file a criminal appeal asking a higher court to review the trial court’s decision and reverse the decision either in whole or in part. Criminal appeals must be filed within a certain period of time after the trial court’s ruling and if the appeal is successful, the federal appellate court may reverse your conviction, grant you a new trial or remand your case back to the trial court in order for the error to be remedied. On the other hand, a federal writ of habeas corpus, if successful, orders the prison holding an inmate to immediately release the inmate or calls for some other legal remedy, such as a change in the conditions of the inmate’s incarceration or a reduction in the inmate’s sentence. In most cases, a writ of habeas corpus petition is filed after an individual has already attempted and failed to overturn a criminal conviction on appeal.

Hiring an Attorney for a Habeas Corpus Petition

A federal writ of habeas corpus petition is an important legal tool because it gives state and federal prisoners the opportunity to challenge the legality of their conviction, sentencing or conditions of confinement on the basis of federal law, and allows us as defense attorneys to continue fighting for our clients even after they have exhausted all of the state measures available to them. That being said, the habeas corpus process is complicated and federal law bars repetitious habeas corpus petitions by state and federal prisoners, so it is imperative that you get your petition right the first time around. If you believe you have been unjustly incarcerated in state or federal prison, an experienced criminal appeals attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your case and help you determine whether petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus is the right decision for your specific situation. Even if you were found guilty of a state crime in state court, filed a direct appeal, lost your case at the appellate level, appealed your case again and then lost in the highest court in California, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. We may still be able to file a writ of habeas corpus petition on your behalf at the federal level and raise any constitutional issues that you believe resulted in your unlawful imprisonment.

Contact Pat Ford Appeals for Legal Help

The laws governing habeas corpus petitions at the federal level are not simple and filing a successful federal habeas corpus petition can be a long, complicated and frustrating process. At Pat Ford Appeals, we know how difficult it must be for individuals who have been wrongly imprisoned and their loved ones to protect their rights and put up a good fight, and when you hire our firm, we will represent your appeal to the fullest extent of the law. We represent clients in all matters relating to criminal appeals and we know what it takes to get a federal writ of habeas corpus granted by the court. If you or someone you love is serving time in California state prison or federal prison and wants to challenge their criminal conviction, sentence or conditions of imprisonment before a federal judge, you need the expertise of a California criminal appeals attorney who knows everything there is to know about constitutional law, federal statutory and case law, and the federal writ of habeas corpus process. Contact Pat Ford Appeals today to find out how our criminal appeals lawyers can help.

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