“To have the body”—that’s what the Latin phrase habeas corpus means in English.
If you are in jail or forced to spend time in a mental institution or a rehabilitation facility, the federal government or the state of Florida “has your body.” If you believe your detention is unjustified, you may have options about how to secure your freedom. A writ of habeas corpus and an appeal are two options you should discuss with your criminal defense attorney.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
Both the Florida and the U.S. Constitutions provide people with the right to file writs of habeas corpus. When you file a writ of habeas corpus, you are asking the court to determine if your imprisonment or forced time in a mental institution or rehabilitation facility is legal.
Your writ of habeas corpus must state the specific relief you are requesting and the reasons you are requesting it. Additionally, you must file the writ and any required fees according to the specific guidelines in the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure or federal law.
When to File a Writ of Habeas Corpus
After a criminal conviction, a writ of habeas corpus may be used to claim that the laws were misapplied in your case.
Even before a conviction, a writ of habeas corpus may be used if you are being held by the government and you claim one of the following:
- There is no adequate basis for your detention
- Your case should be removed to another court
- You’ve been unfairly denied bail or parole
- You’ve already been tried for your crime and the current case against you is double jeopardy
- The government failed to provide you with a speedy trial
- Extradition to a foreign country is disputed
Once you file your writ of habeas corpus, the government must present valid reasons for your imprisonment. If the government cannot provide convincing reasons to the court, then you should be released from government custody immediately.
On a writ of habeas corpus, the court can only consider whether it is legal for the government to imprison or detain you right now. Your guilt or innocence and any potential future imprisonment will not be considered.
When You May Be Able to File an Appeal
Writs of habeas corpus are often referred to as extraordinary writs. Not every person convicted of a crime has grounds to file a writ of habeas corpus, just as not everyone convicted of a crime has grounds to file an appeal. Yet, appeals are much more common in Florida and federal courts.
You may file an appeal if one of the following is true:
- The court made a mistake, and your criminal trial lawyer made an objection or a motion to preserve the issue for appeal
- The court’s mistake was a fundamental error
An appeal can change the outcome of your case. The appellate court could reverse the trial court’s decision and send the case back to the trial court for further consideration.
Often, appeals take longer than writs of habeas corpus, but the two methods of relief serve different purposes. Additionally, there are strict deadlines for filing an appeal that do not apply to writs of habeas corpus.
This is why it is essential to talk to a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney about all of your legal options as soon as possible.
Consult a Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Options
Your freedom is at stake, and you can’t afford to make a mistake. Before you file an appeal, a writ of habeas corpus, or another writ or motion for post-conviction relief, it is important to speak with a dedicated criminal defense lawyer who will investigate all of your legal options and fight hard for your fair and just recovery.
Attorney Robert Malove believes that every criminal defendant deserves to be treated fairly. Fair treatment includes careful consideration of all legal options. Call or complete an online contact form today to find out more about what you can do to protect yourself with the help of a criminal appellate attorney.