Criminal Law

Habeas Corpus Petitions: Can You File More Than Once?

A habeas corpus petition challenges the basis of the petitioner's confinement. A common question is whether someone can seek habeas corpus relief more than once. Yes, with limits. A successive habeas corpus petition is a third or later petition.

Grounds for Bringing a Successive Petition

A successive petition is allowed if:

  • It includes a claim that relies on a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to post-conviction cases by the US Supreme Court
  • The factual basis for the claim couldn't have been discovered previously and the facts underlying the claim are sufficient to establish that, but for constitutional error, no reasonable fact finder would have found the applicant guilty

Permission of Court

An individual who wants to file a second or later habeas petition must first ask the appropriate court of appeals for an order authorizing the district court to consider the petition. So, the court of appeals performs a screening function.

The petitioner must make a motion in the court of appeals for the order before filing another application. No filing fee is required for the motion. A filing fee is required if the motion is granted and the petition filed.

If the habeas petitioner files a second or successive petition for habeas corpus relief in the district court without prior authorization from the court of appeals, the district court must transfer the document to the court of appeals.

Court of Appeals

The court of appeals should grant an application if it seems to satisfy the requirements for the filing of a second or successive petition. If no claim raised in the motion satisfies either of the two required grounds, then the motion must be denied.

The court of appeals considers the application as a whole. It doesn't consider the individual claims in the application. If any one of the claims raised in the application satisfies the requirements then the motion should be granted. The district court then has authority to dismiss those claims that don't comply with the requirements.

Delayed Petitions

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 contains a one-year limitations period for habeas corpus filings that is triggered by any one of several events, some of which may occur years after the conviction becomes final.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • What is a successive habeas corpus petition?
  • What are the requirements for filing a successive habeas corpus petition?
  • In what court should a successive petition be filed?
Have a criminal law question?
Get answers from local attorneys.
It's free and easy.
Ask a Lawyer

Get Professional Help

Find a Criminal Law lawyer
Practice Area:
Zip Code:
How It Works
  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Connect with local attorneys

Talk to an attorney

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you