Habeas Corpus for Immigrants: How Can it Help?

Habeas Corpus is a civil case filed by an inmate, or by someone whose rights are, or will be harmed by a conviction and is constructively or actually detained as a result. It is filed in an appropriate court to test the legality of a conviction, usually not to test guilt or innocence. The use of the writ of habeas corpus started in ancient England to challenge the legality of the King holding someone prisoner. It was in the Magna Carta, and its use spread to the American colonies which became the United States of America. It found its way into the U.S. Constitution.

Abraham Lincoln, a lawyer who mostly represented little people before he became President, actually suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus during the U.S. Civil War. The Writ of Habeas Corpus is a Federal Constitutional right. “The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, except when in Cases of rebellion or invasion, the public Safety may require it.”; Article I Section 9 of U.S. Constitution. Georgia has a version of the writ of habeas corpus in its laws with certain limitations, as do most states. With exceptions, in Georgia a felony conviction must be challenged via a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus within four years of the date of the conviction; a misdemeanor within one year of the plea or judgment of conviction, and most traffic offenses within 6 months of the date of conviction.

The writ of habeas corpus is filed outside of deportation, or “removal” proceedings to set aside a conviction. It is usually filed in the court of the original conviction. The administrative immigration judges are powerless to hear a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus.

If successful, the grant of the writ of habeas corpus sets aside the conviction which causes the immigrant a problem.

Mr. Hill files habeas corpus petitions on a regular basis. The Attorney has successfully set aside convictions for numerous clients, resulting in permanent residents keeping their green cards, and in obtaining lawful permanent resident status for those who did not yet have permanent or lawful status in the U.S., and who would not have done so without the successful Writ of Habeas Corpus.

Call the Attorney for a consultation if you think that a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus might help you, or your loved one. This blog is not legal advice, and a habeas corpus petition will not work in every case for every immigrant who wants to file one.

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