Habeas Corpus literally means “that you have the body.” For many state inmates, the Habeas Corpus appeal is the last chance for appellate review of their case. The argument in a Habeas Corpus appeal is the state that convicted the petitioner did not afford the person their minimum federal constitutional rights. The basis of Habeas review is the state is illegally detaining a person and that person is asking the federal government to order the state to release them from custody.

Federal Statute 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241–2256 governs Habeas Petitions in the United States of America. The main procedural issues in filing a Habeas Petition are: the person must be incarcerated on the case for which they are seeking review, timeliness, and exhaustion. A habeas petition must be filed within one year of the end of your direct appeal. However, the clock is stopped during your PCRA proceeding and begins again when the state Supreme Court denies your PCRA appeal. To include an issue in a Federal Habeas Corpus Appeal, the issue must have been denied by the state court appellate system, meaning you cannot raise an issue for the first time in the Habeas Petition.

When reviewing state issues, the standard applied is, “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.” The issues Mr. Zeiger sees most are Fourth Amendment (illegal search and seizure), Fifth Amendment (right to silence), Sixth Amendment (right to effective counsel), Eighth Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment), and the Confrontation Clause (state court evidentiary rules prevented the petitioner from properly confronting the accuser).

Habeas Corpus relief can also be used to argue: (i) an adequate basis for detention; (ii) removal to another federal district court; (iii) the denial of bail or parole; (iv) a claim of double jeopardy; (v) the failure to provide for a speedy trial or hearing; or (vi) the legality of extradition to a foreign country.

Habeas Petitions can be complicated. If you or your loved one are at the point of the appeal where you believe a Federal Habeas Corpus Appeal is appropriate, contact Brian J. Zeiger, Esquire now to schedule a free consultation at 215.546.0340