habeas corpus


ha·be·as cor·pus

noun \ˈhā-bē-əs-ˈkr-pəs\

law : an order to bring a jailed person before a judge or court to find out if that person should really be in jail

Full Definition of HABEAS CORPUS

:  any of several common-law writs issued to bring a party before a court or judge; especially :  habeas corpus ad subjiciendum
:  the right of a citizen to obtain a writ of habeas corpus as a protection against illegal imprisonment


  1. apply for a writ of habeas corpus


Middle English, from Medieval Latin, literally, you should have the body (the opening words of the writ)
First Known Use: 15th century

Other Legal Terms

actionable, alienable, carceral, chattel, complicity, decedent, larceny, malfeasance, modus operandi

habeas corpus

noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

In common law, any of several writs issued to bring a party before a court. The most important such writ (habeas corpus ad subjiciendum) is used to correct violations of personal liberty by directing judicial inquiry into the legality of a detention. Common grounds for relief include a conviction based on illegally obtained evidence, a denial of effective assistance of counsel, or a conviction by a jury that was improperly selected or impaneled. The writ may be used in civil matters to challenge a person's custody of a child or the institutionalization of a person declared incompetent.


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