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Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus

Petitions for Writs of Habeas Corpus in California Federal Courts - 2254 Petitions

If you've unsuccessfully appealed your California criminal conviction to both the Court of Appeals and the California Supreme Court, it still may be possible to successfully resolve your case by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court. An experienced defense attorney from The Kavinoky Law Firm can review your case to determine whether you would benefit from a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court, also known as a 2254 petition.

A petition for a writ of habeas corpus is filed in the federal trial court which has jurisdiction over the prison to which you've been sentenced. There are numerous federal trial courts in California, and all of California's prisons fall within the jurisdiction of one of them.

A petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed in federal court can only raise those issues which have been raised in front of California's courts in previous proceedings or appeals. For example, the court cannot consider issues which were not raised in the trial court or in front of one of California's reviewing courts.

The federal court will only consider issues that impacted your state criminal process, such as ineffective assistance of counsel, search and seizure, Miranda issues, cruel and unusual punishment, false evidence, clearly insufficient evidence to convict, etc..

Perhaps the most complicated part of federal habeas corpus law concerns time limits. Generally, a petition must be filed within 365 days of the California Supreme Court's denial of your case. There are ways to get around this time frame, but it's advisable to initiate this process as soon as possible after exhausting your options in the California state courts.

Like the state petition for writ of habeas corpus, a federal petition is literally a lawsuit against the warden or jailer who has you in custody. The petition is filed, and the state usually answers, either asking the court to dismiss because of a technicality or by answering your contentions head-on. The court will then decide what to do: receive evidence in a hearing; deny or grant the petition outright, or reform your sentence to follow the law.

If your petition to the federal trial court is unsuccessful, you can appeal this decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The process begins by asking for a certificate of appealability, also called a COA, from the federal trial court. This means that, despite the fact that the trial court has denied your petition, the trial court can admit that there are some troubling issues in the case which should be brought to the attention of the 9th Circuit.

If the federal trial court flatly refuses to issue a COA, you can seek to obtain one from the 9th Circuit. Here, too, time is of the essence and protocol must be followed to the letter. If the 9th Circuit also declines to issue a COA, you 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 your petition. Those contentions, however, must be raised in the federal trial court in order for them to be reviewed on appeal. Once the appeals court reviews the petition, the parties are invited to give oral arguments. After oral argument, the appeal court will then issue a written decision, usually within two to three months. If you aren't victorious in front of the 9th Circuit, the last step is seeking review of the entire case in front of the United States Supreme Court.

Filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court may resolve your case satisfactorily when other approaches have failed. The Kavinoky Law Firm's Writs and Appeals Law Group provides assistance with the federal writ process to countless individuals and their families throughout California. Please contact us 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