How to File a Federal Habeas Corpus Petition

Where a prisoner believes that his incarceration violates federal law, he  may petition for a writ of federal habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Federal habeas petitions are often filed as a lest resort after a prisoner has exhausted all other potential remedies.

In order to be considered, a federal habeas petition must allege very specific grounds. According to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a), the petition must allege that the prisoner is in custody in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. Additionally, a prisoner may not file a petition for federal habeas relief unless he has either previously exhausted all state remedies available to him, or shows either that the state corrective process is ineffective or non-existent. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b).

Because such a petition initiates a federal proceeding, state prisoners must allege a violation of the US Constitution. Examples of common constitutional violations include:

  • Violation of a defendant’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to counsel due to ineffective assistance of counsel;
  • Violation of a defendant’s Fourteenth Amendment due process rights due to an improperly obtained confession; and
  • Violation of a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial by a fair and impartial jury due to a biased juror, unconstitutional jury instructions, or insufficient evidence to sustain the jury’s verdict.

Alternatively, federal prisoners may petition for federal habeas relief based on violations of the Constitution, or various other federal laws. A successful federal habeas petition may result in a new trial, new sentencing hearing, or even the prisoner’s immediate release.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about the possibility of federal habeas relief, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation at (855) 973-4169.