Laws and Codes: Where do you find them?

Over the course of the last several years, many governmental bodies at the Federal, State and local levels have made available to the public, free of charge, a plethora of legal materials online that can provide significant assistance for individual research. The body of legal material provided in this fashion continues to grow year by year, as governmental entities work to provide useful information on a far more comprehensive basis than would have been seen even just a few years ago.

In this blog entry, we will present a variety of reliable legal sources available to the public, and where they can be found. We would only caution that, as is always the case with legal materials, although the provisions to which you will be directed are authentic, consultation of only one source may not answer completely a legal question or resolve an issue. For complex matters, it is always best to consult professionals in this area in order to understand fully the various legal considerations that must be taken into account.

The Federal government provides access to the full text of two significant sources of federal legal and regulatory authority. These consist of the United States Code (U.S.C.), which is the codified aggregation of laws passed by Congress, and the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.), which is set forth by the federal agencies charged with the practical application and enforcement of those same laws.

To browse through the U.S. Code, you may visit this website order to view a listing of the various titles contained in the Code and the individual provisions it contains, divided by Title, indicating the general scope of a set of laws, by Chapter, for subtopics under each title, and then by Sections, which actually contain the text of laws integrated into the Code.

For searching the Code utilizing the advanced search option, the page here offers the user a number of options for searching current and past versions of the Code for relevant statutory material.

To search for current legislation pending before Congress, this webpage provides access to the text of bills considered by the Senate and House of Representatives, which can be found by bill number or by means of a keyword search. Current legislation of note is highlighted on the site’s home page, which, for example, offers a link to the proposed legislation known as the Responsible Body Armor Possession Act, designated as H.R. 5344.

The New Jersey State website provides access to its own version of analogous resources. The New Jersey Statutes, composed of codified laws drawn from legislation passed by the State Legislature, is available by means of a link contained on the Legislature’s own home page. To view the State Constitution, Chapter Laws, and Statutes, look for the links located on the left side bar of the Legislature’s home page, which looks like this:
New Jersey Statutes

In the same sidebar on this page, you will also be able to find your representatives in the State Assembly and Senate, as well as a map of your legislative district:
New Jersey Legislators

The State of New Jersey has also promulgated its own regulatory provisions, compiled into the New Jersey Administrative Code. The Code is published and maintained by the legal publisher Lexis Nexis, so the user will be redirected to their site and will need to agree to the terms for use before gaining access to the list of Code titles and sections, as well as their full text. For both browsing and searching the Code, the starting point will be here and the page will look like this:
New Jersey Administrative Code

In future blog entries, we will present information on local ordinances and regulations, as well as salient provisions of the New Jersey Administrative Code that are used frequently by the general public.


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