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Procedure for a California Writ of Habeas Corpus

Highly Experienced Los Angles Criminal Appeals Lawyer Aggressively Pursuing Post-Conviction Relief on Behalf of Clients Throughout Southern California

The writ of habeas corpus, or the “Great Writ” as it’s also known, is a powerful tool that allows courts to review an inmate’s final conviction and, when appropriate, reverse a conviction or otherwise reopen proceedings. However, the procedure for a California writ of habeas corpus is exceedingly complex, and courts are only allowed to hear an inmate’s petition under very limited circumstances. In fact, courts dismiss most petitions for a writ of habeas corpus without hearing the merits of the petitioner’s case due to procedural problems with the filing. At Power Trial Lawyers, our California criminal appeals lawyer has extensive experience helping clients obtain relief in post-conviction proceedings. Attorney Barhoma has successfully secured the release of many clients through his knowledgeable and comprehensive approach to this complex litigation.

Steps to Filing a California Writ of Habeas Corpus

The Great Writ is known as an “extraordinary remedy” and, unlike a direct appeal, is automatically available to anyone who is convicted of a crime. Very specific elements must be met before a court will hear a petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging an inmate’s conviction or sentence.

Requirements to File a Writ of Habeas Corpus in California

As a general rule, under California law, a person can file a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging their conviction or sentence if each of the following is met:

  • The person is in custody;
  • The person exhausted their remedies through the direct appeal process; and
  • The issues raised in the petition were not previously resolved by the court of appeal.

Thus, to effectively file a writ of habeas corpus in California state court, an inmate must have been convicted and either serving a sentence of incarceration, probation or parole. They must have also filed a direct appeal to the appellate court and then to the California Supreme Court. Finally, they cannot raise an issue in the petition that the court of appeals resolved against them.

Additionally, California law imposes very strict requirements regarding when an inmate files a petition for writ of habeas corpus—courts want inmates to file petitions as soon as possible and to raise all available issues in a single petition. Thus, a writ of habeas Corpus must be “filed as promptly as the circumstances of the case allow.” However, California law does not provide a specific timeframe for when an inmate can bring a claim. As a general rule, courts will also deny successive petitions. A successive petition is any petition filed after an inmate has already filed their first petition for writ of habeas corpus.

Because of this, many of the most common claims in a petition for writ of habeas corpus are based on evidence that was not contained within the trial record.

Filing a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

If an inmate meets all the requirements to file a petition for writ of habeas corpus, they will file their petition in the superior court in the court of conviction. Within 60 days, the court will review the petition to determine if the inmate raised a prima facie case entitling them to relief. If so, the court will issue an order to show cause (OSC), which indicates that if everything the inmate included in the petition is true, they would be entitled to relief.

After the court issues an OSC, the burden shifts to the prosecution to contest the allegations raised in the petition. The inmate can then file a response. Ultimately, the court will either deny the inmate’s petition or order an evidentiary hearing, where the court will hear evidence and make a determination on the merits of the inmate’s petition.

An experienced California post-conviction lawyer can greatly assist incarcerated inmates in getting their issues heard by the court. The complexities of the substantive legal issues pale in comparison to those related to the procedure of a California writ of habeas corpus; thus, it is essential to have an experienced advocate at your side to ensure your claims receive the attention they deserve.

Speak with a Dedicated Los Angeles Criminal Appeals Attorney Today

If you are serving a prison sentence as a result of a conviction and would like to learn more about filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus in hopes of obtaining relief, reach out to Power Trial Lawyers At Power Trial Lawyers, we have extensive experience representing clients in Los Angeles and throughout California in habeas corpus litigation, and have secured the release of many clients through a variety of post-conviction remedies. 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.

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