By United States law, every citizen has the right to a free and fair trial. Yet you may have had your day in court and felt that your attorney made mistakes when defending you. Or you may have faced a judge who presided with partiality, determined to rule against you no matter the facts.

If you experienced an unfair trial, you could petition for a writ. A writ is an order decreeing legal action. You may feel confused about beginning the writ process. But following these steps can clarify it.

Common types of writs

The first step in petitioning for a writ is to know which kind you must pursue. The five common types of writs are:

  • Habeas corpus: Writ of habeas corpus is an appeal against the legality of the grounds for your restraint or detainment.
  • Mandamus: Writ of mandamus compels the lower court to perform duties which it did not observe during your trial or conviction.
  • Prohibition: Writ of prohibition does not overturn a prior conviction. But it does prevent the lower court from further action outside its jurisdiction.
  • Certiorari: Writ of certiorari is the petition for a higher court to review the previous judgment of a lower court. The Supreme Court uses this writ to determine many of its cases.
  • Quo warranto: Writ of quo rarely applies to individual criminal cases. But it exists as a challenge against an individual’s right to holding corporate or government office.

Most writs will not apply to your case. Thus, it’s crucial to understand the differences between them to make sure you pursue the appropriate one.

Filing your writ

Once you know which type of writ applies to your case, you can submit your petition. There is no timeline for filing a writ. But the general guideline is to write your writ within 60 days of your case’s judgment. The court will then review your petition and will either grant or deny it – upholding the original ruling. But you have the right to submit another writ petition, even if your initial faces rejection.

Writs may seem confusing. But you may find them quite helpful in your pursuit of justice. Working with a lawyer with post-conviction experience can help you determine whether a writ could benefit you.