Justia Lawyer Rating
State Bar of California
The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 under 40
The National Trial Lawyers, Top 100 trial lawyers
Best Lawyers
Lawyers of Distinction
Super Lawyers
Super Lawyers Rising Stars

A Top Writ of Writ of Habeas Corpus Lawyer Explains How to Win

Highly Experienced Los Angeles Post-Conviction Attorney Strategically Pursuing Relief on Behalf of California Inmates

The writ of habeas corpus is an incredibly powerful tool in criminal law, giving judges the power to overturn final convictions that were unlawfully obtained for a variety of reasons. However, obtaining habeas corpus relief is also exceptionally challenging. Between the strict procedural framework and complex substantive legal doctrines that govern petitions for writs of habeas corpus, successfully bringing a habeas petition requires a seasoned post-conviction lawyer. At Power Trial Lawyers Attorney Matthew Barhoma and his team of dedicated criminal appeals lawyers aggressively pursue habeas corpus relief for clients serving lengthy prison sentences. The firm’s strategic approach has earned the freedom of many clients.

Successfully Bringing a Writ of Habeas Corpus in California Courts

As a general rule, once a defendant exhausts their appellate remedies, their conviction is final. However, a petition for writ of habeas corpus is a post-conviction remedy that grants a court the ability to essentially re-open a criminal case and grant a wide range of relief. Not surprisingly, due to the vast number of inmates in California seeking this type of relief, state lawmakers have enacted extremely strict procedural filing requirements. Thus, to succeed in bringing a habeas corpus claim, you must first establish that your claim is properly before the court and then prove the merits of your underlying claim.

Habeas Corpus Procedure in California

In general, anyone can file a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging their conviction or sentence. However, a court only has the authority to hear a petition if each of the following is met:

  • You are in custody;
  • You have already exhausted your state appellate (direct appeal) remedies; and
  • The issues raised in your habeas petition were not previously resolved by the court of appeal.

If each of these is met, you are a proper party to bring a habeas petition. However, the next step in overcoming the procedural hurdles to relief relates to the timeliness of your petition. As a general rule, courts want you to bring your habeas corpus petition as quickly as possible. While there is no strict timeframe, a petition should be “filed as promptly as the circumstances of the case allow.”

Finally, courts typically only allow an inmate one petition for writ of habeas corpus (absent extenuating circumstances). If an inmate has already filed a petition which was rejected by the court, the inmate’s second petition will be considered “successive.” Courts only hear successive petitions in unusual situations, which means it is imperative to bring all issues in a first habeas petition.

Substantively Proving You Are Entitled to Habeas Corpus Relief

If the court accepts your filing as timely and not procedurally barred, the next step is to prove that you are entitled to relief under state law. While there are many different claims one can raise in a petition for writ of habeas corpus, some of the most commonly litigated claims include the following:

  • Ineffective assistance of counsel (either trial or appellate counsel);
  • Juror misconduct;
  • New evidence; or
  • Changes in the law.

Notably, certain issues cannot be heard in a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Most notably, these include alleged violations of the Fourth Amendment or challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence.

Of course, the strategy for successfully bringing a petition for writ of habeas corpus depends on the specific type of claim. In some cases where a post-conviction lawyer can make a strong case, the district attorney may agree to either provide the requested relief or some similar form of relief through an alternate procedural mechanism, such as an AB 2942 petition. It is important that your habeas corpus lawyer understands all potential avenues of relief to maximize your chances of success.

Are You Seeking Habeas Corpus Relief?

If you are incarcerated and recently learned that your direct appeal was unsuccessful, reach out to Power Trial Lawyers to discuss how to strategically bring a petition for writ of habeas corpus. At Power Trial Lawyers, we have extensive hands-on experience litigating petitions for writs of habeas corpus on behalf of inmates convicted of serious crimes. Over the past few years alone, we’ve successfully advocated for the reversal of several clients’ convictions. We have also obtained resentencing hearings for multiple clients, resulting in much shorter—often time-served—sentences. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Barhoma today, call 213-800-7664. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

Client Reviews
"Matthew is the most knowledgeable lawyer. I have worked with teams of lawyers and none of them were as knowledgeable and prompt as Matthew. I trust all of my company’s legal affairs with Matthew. He makes me rest easy knowing he is on it.” Michael
"Matthew is the epitome of hard work and dedication, when it comes to his work. Matthew has helped me with all my contractual work needed to help me launch my start up. Matthew is honest, diligent and relentless." Carol
"Matthew was very responsive and caring for my case. He handled my case with efficiency and made sure to secure exactly what we wanted. He has represented my company previously and when we needed a lawyer, it was no question – we phoned Matthew!" Tony