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Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus

Federal Petitions for Writs of Habeas Corpus

A federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus, also known as a 2255 petition, is filed on behalf of an individual convicted in federal court and who is currently in prison or on probation. A federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus is most commonly used in an attempt to withdraw a guilty plea or after a loss before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
An experienced California attorney from The Kavinoky Law Firm can answer all of your questions about petitions for writs of habeas corpus.

A federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus is typically limited to bringing legal and factual errors to the federal trial court's attention which were not transcribed by the court reporter. For example, the most common argument in a federal writ petition is ineffective assistance of counsel. This is because what a trial lawyer did or did not do cannot really be noted by the court reporter or the judge.

There are many other reasons to file a federal writ petition - newly discovered evidence which exonerates the accused; false evidence which has been uncovered; jury misconduct which is not in the court reporter's records, and many, many more arguments. In any event, the federal courts will only entertain a federal petition which raises constitutional issues.

The timeframes for filing a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus are complex, but the general rule is that the petition must be filed in the federal trial court within 365 days of either the date of sentencing or the date when a federal appeals case is denied. There are some exceptions to this rule, but a petition filed within the one-year deadline has the best chance of success.

The process of petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court begins when a defense attorney submits a lengthy brief outlining the reasons why the petition should be granted. The federal prosecutor may respond with arguments against granting the position. The federal trial judge has the option of granting or denying the petition outright; reforming the sentence in the spirit of fairness; or weighing evidence during a hearing.

If the petition for a writ of habeas corpus isn't approved by the federal trial judge, the matter can be brought up with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The process begins by asking for a certificate of appealability ("COA") from the federal trial court.

A COA means that despite the fact that the trial court has denied the petition, there are troubling issues in the case which should be brought to the attention of the Federal Appeals Court. If the federal trial court flatly refuses to issue a COA, it may be possible to obtain a COA directly from the 9th Circuit. If the 9th Circuit also declines to issue a COA, the defendant can request a COA from the U.S. Supreme Court.

If any of the three above courts issues a COA, the 9th Circuit will then evaluate the merits of the defendant's petition. Those contentions, however, must be raised in the federal trial court in order for them to be raised on appeal. After the merits are considered by the appeals court, the parties are then invited in for oral argument.

After oral arguments are heard, the appeals court will issue a written decision, usually within two to three months. If the defendant is not victorious in front of the Federal Court of Appeals, the last step is seeking review of the entire case in front of the United States Supreme Court.

A petition for a federal writ of habeas corpus may be a successful avenue to reversing a conviction and achieving justice at last. To learn more about filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court, contact an experienced attorney from The Kavinoky Law Firm today for a free consultation.

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Bail Pending Sentencing or Appeal Direct Appeal
Withdrawing Guilty Pleas Writ of Habeas Corpus - State Court
Motions for a New Trial Writ of Habeas Corpus - Federal Court
Sentencing Memoranda Expungement
Bail Pending Sentencing or Appeal Sentencing Memoranda
Withdrawing Guilty Pleas Direct Appeal
Motions for a New Trial Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus
Representation at Sentencing