South Carolina Habeas Corpus Lawyer

The concept of “habeas corpus” is a founding principle of the United States justice system that was first incorporated into the U.S. Constitution upon its drafting in 1789. Today, a writ of habeas corpus is a means for someone incarcerated under federal or state law to request a hearing before a judge and challenge the constitutional validity of their sentence.

However, there are several qualifying criteria to meet and preliminary options to exhaust before a federal criminal defense attorney could help someone pursue this option. Once retained, a South Carolina habeas corpus lawyer could explain how federal law regulates this process and work tirelessly to pursue a positive case resolution on your behalf.

When is a Writ of Habeas Corpus Available?

28 U.S. Code §2254 grants federal circuit judges, district courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court and Justices thereof the authority to “entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus” from someone who is currently incarcerated under the state of South Carolina. Generally, habeas corpus petitions are built around a convicted individual’s claim that their Constitutional rights were violated during their criminal trial and/or sentencing.

Possible grounds that a South Carolina attorney could help base a habeas corpus petition around include:

  • Ineffective legal counsel during a convicted party’s trial
  • A Fifth Amendment violation such as a forced confession or self-incrimination
  • Unreasonably cruel and unusual punishments passed down during sentencing
  • Inappropriate suppression of relevant evidence

It may also be possible for a convicted individual to seek a writ of habeas corpus based on newly discovered evidence. However, this is only possible if they can provide convincing evidence that their conviction only occurred because of a constitutional error, and that the lawful presentation of this evidence would have convinced reasonable factfinders of their innocence.

Restrictions on Habeas Relief in South Carolina

Importantly, individuals incarcerated under state-level authority cannot seek federal habeas corpus relief until they have exhausted all other alternative remedies. In practice, this means that the defendant must have already:

  • Filed appeals with—and been rejected by—the South Carolina Court of Appeals and then the South Carolina Supreme Court
  • Sought post-conviction relief and appealed an ensuing rejection to the state Supreme Court again
  • Sought other forms of relief if they are available

Additionally, recent changes to federal law have imposed a statutory filing deadline of one year on habeas corpus petitions. These changes also prohibit incarcerated individuals from filing more than one petition for habeas relief under most circumstances and narrow the definition for what constitutes a contradiction or “unreasonable application” of federal law. A local habeas corpus lawyer could explain these potential obstacles in further detail and work with a petitioner to ensure they meet all necessary prerequisites.

Seek Help from a South Carolina Habeas Corpus Attorney

Federal habeas corpus petitions can be extremely difficult to pursue without dedicated legal guidance. Current federal law is very specific and strict about the requirements for a valid motion. Given how significant the consequences of a rejection could be, you should think twice before proceeding with this process without seasoned legal counsel on your side.

A knowledgeable South Carolina habeas corpus lawyer could be the steadfast ally you need to enforce your Constitutional right and secure a favorable conclusion to your case. Call today for a consultation.