Law Offices of James M. Crawford

Protecting Your Rights — Preserving Your Freedom

We Know How To Proceed With Habeas Corpus Petitions

Under federal law and rules of the Constitution of California, any person who believes he or she is wrongfully imprisoned or otherwise detained can petition to challenge their imprisonment. Depending upon the situation, this may be done through an appeal of a conviction, a writ of habeas corpus or a wrongful imprisonment civil lawsuit.

Understanding A Writ Of Habeas Corpus

A writ of habeas corpus is designed to be an effort of last resort to overturn a wrongful conviction. The court requires a person exhaust all other remedies, such as filing an appeal to a higher court, before filing a writ of habeas corpus. In addition, a person must file the habeas corpus petition using the same argument that was used in an appeal.

A person is only able to file a petition of habeas corpus if he or she is being detained or because one’s freedom is restricted as the result of a conviction. For example, a person who is convicted, out on parole and unable to move freely can file a habeas corpus petition.

A habeas court petition can be filed in state court or in federal court if all state options have been exhausted. Successfully arguing a writ of habeas corpus is extremely challenging. Courts insist on clearly convincing evidence in order to issue a writ of habeas corpus.

Because a petition is frequently based on an argument that judicial errors were made in the original legal proceedings, a petition of habeas corpus often is filed by an attorney who was not involved in the original proceeding.

How Habeas Corpus Is Different From An Appeal

An appeal is usually filed immediately following a conviction and sentencing. Appeals are limited to information that is in the record. This is one difference between an appeal and a petition of habeas corpus. The latter can address issues that are not in the record.

In order to win an appeal, three things must occur:

  1. The trial judge must have committed an error.
  2. The defense lawyer objected to the error at the time it was made.
  3. The error was harmful and can be shown to have negatively affected the outcome of the case.

An appeal can result in the court overturning a conviction, awarding the petitioner a new trial, awarding a new sentencing hearing, or upholding the original conviction and sentence.

Have You Been Wrongfully Convicted?

Attorney James M. Crawford has extensive experience handling criminal appeals in state and federal courts, as well as petitions for habeas corpus. We welcome the opportunity to review the facts regarding your conviction and recommending an effective course of action. Call 714-538-7551 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation. We represent clients throughout Orange County and Southern California from offices in Orange and San Bernardino.