Petition for writ of habeas corpus - "The Great Writ."
At the Law Office of David Reagan, we represent clients in Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and the San Francisco Bay Area who have been convicted of serious crimes and want to continue to fight their case. A petition for writ of habeas corpus can reverse a conviction by trial or by guilty plea because of actual innocence, constitutional violations, or ineffective assistance of counsel. Representing clients in both state court and federal court, we are dedicated to fighting for justice, even when the odds are against us. Contact Oakland attorney David Reagan today for a free consultation.
A petition for writ of habeas corpus is used in a variety of situations to challenge criminal convictions and the consequences of a criminal conviction. Although habeas corpus petitions are most commonly used in criminal proceedings, they are also used in certain proceedings of a civil nature such as child custody, juvenile dependency, contempt, and sexually violent predator proceedings. Habeas corpus petitions are frequently used to challenge conditions of probation, parole and sex offender registration. A prisoner can also challenge the conditions of his or her imprisonment. (See People v. Villa (2009) 45 Cal.4th 1063, 1069.) Habeas corpus petitions are used in both state and federal court.
The habeas corpus process is guaranteed by the United States and California Constitutions. In California, habeas corpus petitions are governed by Penal Code section 1473. Penal Code section 1473, subdivision (a), states: “Every person unlawfully imprisoned or restrained of his liberty, under any pretense whatever, may prosecute a writ of habeas corpus, to inquire into the cause of such imprisonment or restraint.”
In California criminal proceedings, habeas corpus petitions are generally of two types: 1) companion habeas corpus petitions, and 2) free-standing habeas corpus petitions.
Companion habeas petitions.
Companion habeas corpus petitions are filed along with a criminal defendant’s direct appeal. Companion habeas petitions are often necessary because the issues or arguments raised in a direct appeal are limited to the appellate record. That means the defendant can only raise issues in his or her direct appeal which arise from what appears in the reporter’s and clerk’s transcripts - what was said or filed in court. If there are legal issues which do not appear in the appellate record, they generally must be brought by petition for writ of habeas corpus. (See People v. Waidla (2000) 141 Cal.4th 690, 743-44.)
In order to be timely, companion habeas corpus petition should be filed at the same time as the appellant’s opening brief, or at the very latest, shortly after the appellant files his reply brief.
Probably the most common example of an issue raised by a companion habeas petition is ineffective assistance of trial counsel. It is often the case that when trial counsel’s performance is inadequate, the inadequate performance is not clear based solely on the transcripts - what was said and done in court. For example, the trial attorney may have given the defendant inaccurate advise while visiting him in jail. Appellate counsel will generally need to communicate with trial counsel as to why certain decisions were made or why certain things were done or not done in preparing and presenting the defendant’s case. If appellate counsel determines that trial counsel’s performance was constitutionally ineffective based on the communications, appellate counsel will need to present evidence to the Court of Appeal to establish a claim of ineffective assistance. Appellate counsel will generally do this by attaching declarations and exhibits to a companion habeas corpus petition.
Occasionally there are situations where new evidence becomes available subsequent to the defendant’s conviction which, had it been presented at trial, would likely have led to a different result. New evidence will only entitle a petitioner for relief on habeas corpus if the evidence “undermines the prosecution’s entire case.” (In re Clark (1993) 5 Cal.4th 750, 766; see also People v. Gonzalez (1990) 51 Cal.3d 1179, 1246 [new evidence must “cast fundamental doubt on the accuracy and reliability of the proceedings”].)
In order for this evidence to be presented in a companion habeas corpus, it must be discovered while the direct appeal is still pending. The new evidence must be evidence that could not reasonable have been discovered at the time of trial through due diligence. An example of this might be an alibi witness who could not be located at the time of trial, although a diligent search was conducted. Such evidence would be attached to a companion habeas corpus petition in the form of an exhibits and declarations.
One type of new evidence that may be presented in a habeas corpus petition is new evidence that shows there was “false evidence” presented against the defendant at any hearing or trial. (See Penal Code, § 1473, subd. (b)(1) [“False evidence that is substantially material or probative on the issue of guilt or punishment was introduced against a person at any hearing or trial relating to his incarceration”].)
Free standing habeas corpus petitions.
Free-standing habeas corpus petitions are all habeas petitions that are not filed along with, or at the same time as, a direct appeal. There are numerous situations in which a free-standing habeas petition can be used. Some examples are: challenging the denial of parole or suitability for parole by the Board of Parole Hearings or the Governor, challenging parole revocation, challenging prison or jail conditions and challenging criminal convictions where there is new evidence or a retroactive change in the law that occurs after the direct appeal is complete. (See In re Harris (1993) 5 Cal.4th 813, 841.) If there is a good reason for delay, many of the issues that could have been brought in a companion habeas petition can also be brought later in a freestanding habeas petition. Due to strict timeliness requirements, however, the best practice is to file a habeas petition as soon as possible.
Oakland criminal defense attorney David Reagan uses his passion for social justice to overturn wrongful convictions, fight serious charges at trial, and clean all types of criminal records in the Bay Area.
"Mr. Reagan handled my court isuses in such a professional manner and had his briefs prepared so well that the Judge in Superior Court of Alameda County gave him kudos in "open court " That was the first time I have ever seen or heard of that happening. It made me very proud to be his client." -J.
Law Office of David Reagan
725 Washington Street, Suite 200
Oakland, CA 94607
Phone (510) 506-9061
Fax (510) 259-9379
Additional office located at:
210 North Fourth Street
San Jose, CA 95112
by David Reagan