Statute format is important for a paralegal to place careful attention upon. This is due to the convoluted nature of a statute to begin with. Statute format can be quite extensive in length as it is often comprised of various amounts of “subsections and cross-references.” The “Illinois Criminal Code,” alone, possesses pages surpassing that of 200.
Particular sections may also include areas for the defining of specific terminology, jurisdiction per state, guidelines concerning varying mental states, consideration for individuals as “parties to a crime,” as well as a brief of all “affirmative defenses” included. Each subsection is referred to as an “article,” where each statute is, then, subdivided. For instance, the “Illinois Domestic Violence Act” or statute is subdivided into four articles: “General Provisions,” “Orders of Protection,” “Law Enforcement Responsibilities,” and “Health Care Services.”
Statutes are divided, in general, according to whether they are public laws or private laws, public, which are associated with the nation as a whole, and private, which deal with individual persons and their disputes or issues. Slip laws” are the form that statutes first take when created. They are comprised of one or a couple of pieces of paper containing individual pagination, which occurs at once, following the act’s passage.
Each slip law contains a public or private digit according to its “congressional session number” and number attributed, depending upon the sequence provided. Following the creation of these papers, the slip laws are then gathered into volumes referred to as “session laws,” which are maintained in both the “United States Statutes at Large” and “United States Code Congressional and Administrative News” texts. Code, then, eventually arranges statutes according to the jurisdiction in which they reside under in terms of specified subject. Codified statutes can be found in three texts: “United States Code,” United States Code Annotated,” and “United States Code Service.”
Citations of the statutes are as follows: the title number, section number, and the year of citation. Within these texts, modifications are included. These include actual alterations as well as complete removal of laws due to the completion of repeals. The reason behind such codification is due to the fact that one specific statute may cover a range of areas. Just one may encompass that of government, labor, criminal, etc.
Within the U.S.C., statutes are arranged according to title, and each area is composed of 50 titles. Amendments are also included to reference the various changes it may have incurred throughout the length of its existence. “Unofficial codes” have also been published, which will allow paralegals to reference case summaries. The inclusion of such information will allow for future decisions to be made about statutes. An understanding the statute format is quite vital to the adequate completion of legal research as performed by any self-respecting paralegal.