Habeas Corpus Definition

A writ that a person may seek from a court to obtain immediate release from an unlawful confinement, as when the confinement has occurred through a means that violated the person's constitutional rights.
American Heritage
Any of various writs ordering a person to be brought before a court; specif., a writ requiring that a detained person be brought before a court to decide the legality of the detention or imprisonment.
Webster's New World
In criminal procedure, a process to challenge the detention of a prisoner; frequently used as a way to attack a conviction in federal court when state appeals have been exhausted.
Webster's New World Law

(law) A writ to bring a person before a court or a judge, most frequently used to ensure that a person's imprisonment, detention, or commitment is legal.

  • writ of habeas corpus

Other Word Forms of Habeas Corpus


habeas corpus
habeas corpora, habeas corpuses

Origin of Habeas Corpus

  • Middle English from Medieval Latin habeās corpus produce the body (from the opening words of the writ) Latin habeās second person sing. present subjunctive of habēre to have Latin corpus body

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • Latin habeas corpus ad subjiciendum (“You (shall) have the body to be subjected to (examination)”), referring to the body of the person being detained (not the body of a victim, as in corpus delicti).

    From Wiktionary


Find Similar Words

Find similar words to habeas corpus using the buttons below.

Words Starting With

Words Ending With


habeas corpus