Criminal Law and Procedure Habeus Corpus Law and Legal Definition

A writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody. Habeas corpus petitions are usually filed by persons serving prison sentences. A habeas corpus petition is a petition filed with a court by a person who objects to his own or another's detention or imprisonment.

Habeas corpus is criminal remedy offering protection against illegal confinement, such as holding a person without charges, when due process obviously has been denied, bail is excessive, parole has been granted, an accused has been improperly surrendered by the bail bondsman or probation has been summarily terminated without cause. The petition must show that the court ordering the detention or imprisonment made a legal or factual error. In family law, a parent who has been denied custody of his child by a trial court may file a habeas corpus petition. Also, a party may file a habeas corpus petition when held in contempt of court and jailed or threatened to be jailed by a judge.