Habeas corpus (Forensic Science)
Forensic evidence may determine the guilt or innocence of individuals accused of crimes, but such evidence is not self-executing—appropriate methods for presenting the evidence to the relevant courts must be found. Defendants who wish to present forensic evidence that may exonerate them may find the process difficult, especially if the evidence becomes available only after the defendants have been convicted. Writs of habeas corpus may be necessary to allow convicted persons to present evidence to the courts in order to establish that they did not commit the crimes of which they have been convicted.
The privilege to obtain a writ of habeas corpus is an ancient right in English common law, and the Founding Fathers of the United States considered this privilege to be of such great importance that they included it in the body of the U.S. Constitution, in Article I, section 9. This underscores its significance, given that even those constitutional Framers who did not believe a bill of rights was necessary thought that habeas corpus deserved constitutional protection. Habeas corpus is not an absolutely inviolable right in the United States, however; the language of the Constitution explicitly allows for the suspension of habeas corpus in certain cases. Only incarcerated individuals who have completed the regular appeals process may use this action.
Technically, habeas corpus is a civil action, not a criminal one, and guilt or innocence...
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Further Reading (Forensic Science)
Abraham, Henry J. The Judicial Process. 7th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Epstein, Lee, and Thomas G. Walker. Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Rights, Liberties, and Justice. 6th ed. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2007.
Ivers, Gregg. American Constitutional Law: Power and Politics. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
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Habeas Corpus (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
[Latin, You have the body.] A writ (court order) that commands an individual or a government official who has restrained another to produce the prisoner at a designated time and place so that the court can determine the legality of custody and decide whether to order the prisoner's release.
A writ of habeas corpus directs a person, usually a prison warden, to produce the prisoner and justify the prisoner's detention. If the prisoner argues successfully that the incarceration is in violation of a constitutional right, the court may order the prisoner's release. Habeas corpus relief also may be used to obtain custody of a child or to gain the release of a detained person who is insane, is a drug addict, or has an infectious disease. Usually, however, it is a response to imprisonment by the criminal justice system.
A writ of habeas corpus is authorized by statute in federal courts and in all state courts. An inmate in state or federal prison asks for the writ by filing a petition with the court that sentenced him or her. In most states, and in federal courts, the inmate is given the opportunity to present a short oral argument in a hearing before the court. He or she also may receive an evidentiary hearing to establish evidence for the petition.
The habeas corpus concept was first expressed in the
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Habeas Corpus (World of Forensic Science)
The formal term, writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum is Latin for "you shall have the body subjected to examination." Commonly stated as writ of habeas corpus, it is generally defined as a judicial order that is issued by a judge on the behalf of a prisoner, and directed to an official of a prison or other detention facility that has custody of the prisoner. The legality of the writ of habeas corpus is formally contained in state constitutions and within the United States Constitution: "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." [Article 1, Section 9, http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#A1Sec9]
The writ of habeas corpus has a long history that probably originated in twelfth-century England as a way to release illegally detained persons. It was used over the next several centuries as part of common law within the English government. In 1679, the Habeas Corpus Act was passed by the English Parliament in order to guarantee this mandate in law. Today, in the United States and other countries around the world (in various forms), the writ of habeas corpus is a fundamental liberty that guarantees due process to prisoners without deciding innocence or guilt.
Before petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus, a prisoner must prove that all other available means have been attempted. In order to hold a valid writ of habeas corpus, the prisoner must demonstrate that a real or legal mistake was made by the court ordering the original detention or imprisonment. When approved, a writ orders a law enforcement official to deliver a detainee to a specified judge's court at a specific time in order to determine whether the prisoner should be released from custody or continue to be imprisoned. In most cases of present-day usage, the writ is used to appeal state criminal convictions to the federal courts. In some other cases, a writ may be used against a private individual detaining another private individual. For example, people who have been denied custody of children in divorce and adoption proceedings may file a writ of habeas corpus with the court system.
SEE ALSO Latin forensic terms.