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What is a writ of habeus corpus?

If you have been convicted of a crime, you may have a legal basis for filing an appeal to attempt to overturn the ruling of a lower court.

Criminal cases can be appealed on the basis of either the conviction or the sentencing phase. There needs to be some error of law in order to petition the court for an appeal.

A writ of habeas corpus is issued by a judge to a prison authority that orders an inmate to appear in court for a determination to be made as to whether he or she is lawfully imprisoned or should be released.

The Latin translation means to "produce the body." Writs of habeus corpus are usually filed by prisoners and have become known as hallmarks of the American judicial system.

Writs of habeas corpus keep the government in check while offering prisoners a legal means of protesting allegedly unjust imprisonment. They can be filed at both the federal and state levels, but to file a federal writ, there must be no further options available on the state level.

If you feel that you have been imprisoned illegally, or that the conditions of your imprisonment are inhumane, you can mount a legal challenge. The court mandates that evidence supporting such writs is both clear and convincing to issue a writ.

While there are many prisoners in the system who are known as "jailhouse lawyers," the chances of a successful appeal or writ of habeus corpus may be substantially increased by retaining a criminal appeals attorney to represent you throughout the appellate process.

Source: findlaw.com, "The Appeal, Writ and Habeas Corpus Petition Process," accessed May. 15, 2015

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Robert D. DiDio
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