Habeas Corpus

Regardless of whether you have challenged your conviction on appeal, you may petition a Georgia superior court for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, challenging that your sentence violates the Constitutions of the United States or Georgia. In Georgia, you must file a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus within four years of your felony convictions having become final (within one year for misdemeanor convictions). When a conviction becomes final depends on what other steps you took to appeal your conviction, if any. Also, some circumstances can extend the time for filing a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus.

What is a Writ Habeas Corpus?

A Writ of Habeas Corpus, which is Latin for “bring a body before the court,” is a petition for a court to review the circumstances of your imprisonment. This petition asks the court to order the government agency that has detained you to meet you in court where you will be able to argue the position alleged in the petition - that your sentence is in violation of the State or U.S. Constitution.

The court will review the petition. If the petition is approved, then the government agency responsible for your detention must prove that your imprisonment is lawful and that the duration and conditions are appropriate. In addition, the government agency will need to prove that the conditions of your detention do not violate your civil rights.

Federal enforcement agencies that may be challenged by a Writ of Habeas Corpus include the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or U.S. Marshals Service.

Filing for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Filing for a Writ of Habeas Corpus is appropriate only under certain circumstances. For example, you may seek a Writ of Habeas Corpus if you have been unlawfully imprisoned, you have been refused a bond hearing, your detention is unlawfully prolonged, you were denied a bail bond, or you are experiencing inadequate living conditions and healthcare.

If you are eligible to seek Habeas Corpus, the first step is filing a petition with a federal court and getting it approved. If your petition is approved, then you will be able to request relief in several forms. For example, you may request the court to order you released from custody, enforce your human and civil rights, curtail the duration of your imprisonment, or ask for any other illegal matters to be corrected. 

Filing a petition is very different from an appeal. Unlike an appeal, where an appellate court is asked to reverse a guilty verdict, a Writ of Habeas Corpus does not challenge the trial court’s verdict. Before you can file for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, you must first appeal your case to the highest level. The court will deny your petition if you have not exhausted the appeals process.

Do I need an Attorney to Help With Filing for a Writ of Habeas Corpus?

If you believe that you are eligible to pursue a Writ of Habeas Corpus, you should speak with an experienced appellate law attorney like Brandon Bullard to discuss the specific facts of your situation and determine the best course of action for your case. Should filing for a Writ of Habeas Corpus be appropriate for your case, The Bullard Firm can help you analyze your case for any legal or factual errors, develop a strong argument on your behalf, and seek your release from federal custody. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our law firm.

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