Code, Laws, and Legal Help
Current federal, state, and local laws are all available online. Although OPL’s Main Library has print copies of codes and laws which are updated regularly, the online version is the most current since there is sometimes a lapse between when the updates are printed and when they reach the library. Please refer to the online version for the most updated information.
Resources for helping with legal matters, including divorce, eviction and housing, and expunging a criminal record are listed at the end of this section.
Federal Codes and Laws
The United States code, budget, hearings and many other government collections may be accessed through govinfo, the U.S. Government’s Federal Digital System for authenticated government information.
The United States Code is published every six years with supplements published annually. Currently, codes from 1994, 2000, 2006, and 2012 and the intervening annual supplements are available online. Note that title 34, the Navy, is not included within the codes because it was repealed.
To search code for 2012:
- Click on the plus sign next to 2012 in the list of available years. You will see a list of all the titles.
- Click on the plus sign next to the title to view all the chapters contained within the code.
- Click on the plus sign next to the chapter to view all the sections.
- To read the entire title, chapter or section, click on the PDF icon.
Print copies of the United States Code are available at the Alameda County Law Library at 125 12th Street.
The Federal Register is the official daily publication of rules, proposed rules, and notifications of federal agencies. Official copies from 1936 to the present are available in PDF format at the link above. Unofficial copies in HTML format from 1994 to the present are available at www.federalregister.gov<a href>https://www.federalregister.gov</a>.
To locate an issue of the Federal Register:
- Click on the plus sign next to the year you would like to review then again next to the desired month.
- Click on the plus sign again for the daily editions.
- Finally, click on the plus sign next to a department to see the citation for the rules and notifications for that particular day.
- Click on the PDF icon to read the full-text of the rules and notifications for that particular day.
If you would like to review print copies of the Federal Register, Oakland Public Library keeps copies of the current year. Older print copies are available at the Alameda County Law Library at 125 12th Street.
The Code of Federal Regulations is the codification of the rules published in the Federal Register. Copies from 1996 may currently be found in FDsys.
To locate an issue of the Code of Federal Regulations:
- Enter the URL for FDsys listed above and then click on Code of Federal Regulations on the right side of the page.
- Choose a year in the drop down menu and click on Go. You will see a list of titles.
- Click on the plus sign next to the title to see the chapters.
- Click on the plus sign next to the chapter to see the subchapters.
- Click on the plus sign once again to see the sections.
- You may click on the PDF icon at any stage to read the full text of the title, chapter, or subchapter.
Pint copies of the Code of Federal Regulations are available at the Alameda County Law Library at 125 12th Street.
"The List of Sections Affected is a listing of new and amended Federal regulations that have been published since the latest Code of Federal Regulations. Each LSA issue is cumulative and contains the CFR part and section numbers, a description of its status (e.g., amended, confirmed, revised), and the Federal Register page number where the change(s) may be found. A compilation of the list from 1986 to 2000 and monthly lists from 1997 to the present are available online.
To locate Lists of Sections Affected:
- Click on the plus sign next to the year you would like to review then again next to the desired month.
- Then click the plus sign again to read the various titles.
- Click on the PDF icon to read the full text.
Print copies from the past two years are located at the Alameda County Law Library at 125 12th Street.
A slip law is an official publication of the law and is admissible as evindence in all state and Federal courts and tribunals of the United States. Public laws affect society as a whole, while private laws affect an individual, family, or small group. Slip laws from the 104th Congress (1995-1996) to Present are available online.
To search for a law:
- Click on the Congress you’d like to search, then click the PDF icon to read the law.
Congress.gov replaces THOMAS as the official website for federal legislative information and combines elements from FDsys. It contains:
- Congressional Legislation. Summaries of legislation from 1973 to the present, and the full text of legislation from 1989 to the present
- Congressional Record. Published daily when Congress is in session, the Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the U.S. Congress. Issues from 1995 to the present.
- Information about the members of Congress, both past and present, including how to locate your representatives in Congress, and the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress, 1774 – Present. [title in italics]
- Presidential messages, including Executive Orders.
- Other federal reports, messages, and treaties.
Searching by keyword in the search bar located near the top of every page is straightforward. First select the collection you would like to search. You can search by current legislation, all legislation, committee reports, Congressional Record, members, nominations, House or Senate communications, treaties, or all sources. Then enter your search terms. For more advanced search options and guides click on Search Tools in the upper right hand corner of each page.
It is also possible to browse each collection (legislation, reports, nominations, treaties, etc.) within each Congress by clicking on Browse at the top of each page. First choose your desired Congress, then select the collection you want to explore.
To search by Word/Phrase or Bill Number:
- For example, to search for the Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2011, type Veterans Outreach Improvement into the search box. This will lead you to a results page.
- The first result leads to H.R.28: Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2011. Click on H.R. 28.
- Then click on Text of Legislation.
- Finally click on Bill PDF. You will get a message that you are leaving the THOMAS site and entering the Government Printing Office (GPO) site.
- Click on Continue to GPO site to read the text of the bill.
This site, from the League of Women Voters, lists representatives in U.S., California, and Oakland government.
This multimedia archive, a project of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, is dedicated to the U.S. Supreme Court and includes cases from 1792 to the present. It contains all audio recorded in the Court since October 1955 and offers a virtual tour of the Supreme Court.
To search for the results of a Supreme Court case:
- Click on Cases at the top of the page.
- Choose the year the case was decided.
- Click on the name of the case to read about the facts of the case.
- Then click on oral argument and/or opinion announcement to hear the arguments and opinions. Clicking on the links to Oral Argument and Opinion Announcement will also lead to a link to the full text.
You can also read about the courts and the biographies of Supreme Court Justices from 1789 to the present by clicking on Justices at the top of the page.
On this site you can watch videos of the President’s weekly addresses, get information about the latest job news, read about legislation, learn more about current issues, and sign up for e-mail alerts.
A project of the University of California Santa Barbara, this collection contains papers and messages of the presidents in print and audio files, from George Washington to the present. The site also includes Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Fireside chats, radio addresses, and presidential speeches from Ronald Reagan to the present.
The site is searchable by data, documents, elections, and media. Presidential Fireside Chats, Inaugural Addresses, and/or Weekly Addresses are available from 1931 to the present and are located in the Media section. Messages and Papers of the Presidents are available from 1789 (Washington)–1913 (Taft), and Public Papers of the Presidents are available from Hoover to the present and are located in the Documents section.
Part of the Library of Congress’ American Memory Project, this database is organized by topic and covers the period 1774-1875. Papers and publications from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Conventions, Statutes and Documents, Journals of Congress, and Debates of Congress are included.
California Laws and Resources
California law consists of 29 codes. To access the code, select a code listed on the site, then click search. This will lead to a table of contents for the code you selected. Scroll down to the title or chapter you want to view and click on the underscored chapter numbers on the right.
To search the State Constitution, either click on the Table of Contents, then click on the underscored Article Number on the left to read the text or enter a keyword in the search box.
The electronic version of the California Code has been updated to reflect the current Statutes, but if you want to search by Statute, click on Statutes, then enter the Chapter Number, Chapter Year, or Keyword in the corresponding search box. The site contains statutes from 1993 to the present.
The full text of bills, resolutions, and constitutional amendments from 1993 to the present are available on this site. Daily updates for House and Senate Bills are also available. Search for bills by entering the Bill Number, Bill Author, or Keyword in the search box. This will take you to the Bill Documents page where you can review the status and history of the bill, the voting results for the bill, and the Senate and Assembly Analyses.
The California Code of Regulations contains regulations adopted, amended, or repealed by state agencies and compiled into 28 Titles. Online access is available for current codes through the Office of Administrative Law’s website, with the exception of Title 24, the Building Code, which is subject to copyright restrictions and is available only through Depository Libraries or by purchase. The print version of Title 24 is available in the Ready Reference section of OPL’s Main Library. Please note that Parts 8 and 10 of the 2010 edition of Title 24 are incorporated into Part 2.
To search the CCR:
- You can search by Regulatory Section or keyword or, if you don’t know the section number, you can search the entire list of titles by clicking on List of CCR titles.
- Next click the plus sign next to the Title you want to search.
- Continue clicking the plus signs for Divisions, Chapters, and Subchapters, and Articles until you reach the text.
Contact information for the governor is located on this website as well as audio and video for the State of the State Address, Budget, Pension Reform Plan, and various conferences and webinars, including the Redevelopment Webinar. Click on the Multimedia tab at the top of the page for audio and video.
This site lists state representatives and contact information, financial statements including member and staff salaries, legislative calendars, video broadcasts, links to the Daily File, and legislation.
Senator contact information, legislative calendars and deadlines, and links to committee hearings are listed here.
Information for elected officials at the federal, state, county, and city levels from 2003 to the present is listed on the California Secretary of State website. To find current elected officials, click on the current year on the left side of the page.
The Statement of Vote from 1996 to the present, which includes voter registration and participation statistics by county, is located on the Secretary of State’s website. To locate the Statement of Vote, click on the election you want to view, then click on Elections Results.
Links to the Alameda County City Charter and Administrative Code are available on this site. Click on the link for the Codes or Charter. This will take you to the website for Municode where you can read the ordinances and/or charter.
The URL listed above takes you directly to the Municode website where you can read the Oakland Municipal Code. Oakland Public Library also has a copy of the Code in print format, but the electronic version is the most current.
To Access Oakland Municipal Code:
- Click on Oakland Code of Ordinances.
- Click on the Title, then the Chapter, and finally the Section you would like to read.
- You can also search the Code by entering a keyword in the search box at the top of the page.
You can search Title 17, The Oakland Planning Code, separately by clicking on Oakland Planning Code from the URL listed above.
Oakland’s website has much information including information on City Council, job listings, contact information and news for boards and commissions, elected officials, and links to all branches of city government.
To access information on City Council scroll down to the City Council section in the center of the page. Click on the link to City Council. This will lead to a listing of the City Council members and brief biographies.
If you want to determine your council district, scroll down to Our Districts on the left side of the page and click on Find Your Council District, then enter your address in the search box and click Submit.
To find an agency or department, click on the Government tab at the top of the page then scroll down to City Administrator’s Office Agencies and Departments and click on the department you are seeking.
This page on the City of Oakland’s website explains the different types of permits and provides information on how to apply for a permit.
This site contains much information to help you work with an attorney or represent yourself in legal matters. To locate the Rules of Court, click on the Forms and Rules tab at the top of the page then click on Rules of Court. You will see a PDF for each of the titles and appendices.
To find help with particular issues including Changing Your Name, Expunging a Criminal Record, Divorce or Separation, or Eviction and Housing, click the Self Help tab at the top of the page and then choose the topic you need (ie: click on Criminal Law if you need help expunging a criminal record, etc.).
To locate a legal form:
- Select Browse All Forms within the Forms and Rules tab at the top of the page.
- You have the option to select a form type within the drop down menu or you may view a listing of all forms by number or all forms by name. Click on the form number under Results.
You can print forms for 15 cents per page using a computer at OPL.
Librarians are not able to answer legal questions or help patrons with legal matters, but free information and referral is offered through the library’s Lawyers in the Library program, co-sponsored by the Alameda County Bar Association. Lawyers are available at various dates and times at the Main Library and the Chavez, Dimond, Eastmont, Elmhurst, Montclair, Rockridge, and West Oakland branches. Please check the library’s website at the URL listed above for days and times.