1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Definition of Habeas Corpus


Definition: Habeas Corpus, literally in Latin "you have the body" is a term that represents an important right granted to individuals in America. Basically, a writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate requiring that a prisoner be brought before the court to determine whether the government has the right to continue detaining them. The individual being held or their representative can petition the court for such a writ.

According to Article One of the Constitution, the right to a writ of habeas corpus can only be suspended when "in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety." Habeas corpus was suspended during the Civil War and Reconstruction, in parts of South Carolina during the fight against the Ku Klux Klan, and during the War on Terror.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.