California Codes
The California Codes are 29 legal codes
Code (law)
A code is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time the code was enacted, by a process of codification. Though the process and motivations for codification are similar in common law and civil law...

 enacted by the California State Legislature
California State Legislature
The California State Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of California. It is a bicameral body consisting of the lower house, the California State Assembly, with 80 members, and the upper house, the California State Senate, with 40 members...

, which together form the general statutory law of the state of California. Due to tradition and inertia, they have never been consolidated into a single unified code, unlike the United States Code
United States Code
The Code of Laws of the United States of America is a compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal laws of the United States...

 or codifications in other U.S. states.


In 1868, the California Legislature authorized the first of many ad hoc Code Commissions to begin the process of codifying California law. Each Code Commission was a one-year temporary agency which either closed at the end of the year or was reauthorized and rolled over into the next year; thus, in some years there was no Code Commission. The first four codes enacted in 1872 were the Civil Code, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Penal Code, and the Political Code (which later became the Elections Code). Statutes that did not fit these categories were simply left uncodified in the California Statutes
California Statutes
California Statutes are the acts of the California State Legislature as approved according to the California Constitution and collated by the Secretary of State of California....


After many years of on-and-off Code Commissions, the California Code Commission was finally established as a permanent government agency in 1929, and it spent the next 24 years analyzing the massive body of uncodified law in the California Statutes and drafting almost all the other codes. By 1953, when the Code Commission completed its assigned task, 25 Codes were then in existence. The Legislature replaced the Code Commission with the California Law Revision Commission, which periodically reviews the Codes and proposes various amendments to the Legislature. Most of these are simple maintenance amendments to ensure that statutory cross-references are properly updated to add new laws or omit laws which no longer exist.

The newest code is the Family Code, which was split off from the Civil Code in 1994. Oddly, although there is a Code of Civil Procedure, there is no Code of Criminal Procedure. Instead, criminal procedure in California is codified in Part 2 of the Penal Code, while Part 1 is devoted to substantive criminal law.


The Codes form an important part of California law
California law
California law consists of several levels, including constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law, as well as case law.-Constitutional law:...

. However, they must be read in combination with the federal and state constitutions, federal and state case law, and the California Code of Regulations, in order to understand how they are actually interpreted and enforced in court. The Civil Code is particularly difficult to understand since the Supreme Court of California
Supreme Court of California
The Supreme Court of California is the highest state court in California. It is headquartered in San Francisco and regularly holds sessions in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Its decisions are binding on all other California state courts.-Composition:...

 has treated parts of it like a mere restatement of the common law. In contrast, other codes, such as the Probate Code and the Evidence Code, are considered to have fully displaced the common law, meaning that cases interpreting their provisions always try to give effect whenever possible to the Legislature's intent.

Currently, the state government does not publish an official hardcopy version of the codes, though unofficial annotated copies are widely available from private publishers. West
West (publisher)
West publishes legal, business, and regulatory information in print, and on electronic services such as Westlaw. Since the late 19th century, West has been one of the most prominent publishers of legal materials in the United States...

 publishes West's Annotated California Codes and LexisNexis
LexisNexis Group is a company providing computer-assisted legal research services. In 2006 it had the world's largest electronic database for legal and public-records related information...

 publishes Deering's California Codes Annotated. The West annotated version is the more popular one; it is available throughout California at most large public libraries, and is also available throughout the U.S. at virtually all large law libraries
Law library
A law library is a library designed to assist law students, attorneys, judges, and their law clerks and anyone else who finds it necessary to correctly determine the state of the law....


The state Legislative Counsel maintains an online copy of the codes (see link below), but the online copy lacks the detailed annotations which are often essential to understanding the text of the codes.


The 29 California Codes are as follows:
  • California Business and Professions Code
  • California Civil Code
    California Civil Code
    The Civil Code of California is a collection of statutes for the State of California. The code is made up of statutes which govern the general obligations and rights of persons within the jurisdiction of California...

  • California Code of Civil Procedure
    California Code of Civil Procedure
    The California Code of Civil Procedure contains most California statutes that govern the filing of lawsuits, legal notices that must be given in a variety of circumstances, and many other procedural aspects of California civil law, including the statutes of limitations that control the period of...

  • California Commercial Code
  • California Corporations Code
  • California Education Code
  • California Elections Code
  • California Evidence Code
  • California Family Code
  • California Financial Code
  • California Fish and Game Code
  • California Food and Agricultural Code
  • California Government Code
  • California Harbors and Navigation Code
  • California Health and Safety Code
    California Health and Safety Code
    California Law consists of 29 codes, covering various subject areas, the State Constitution and Statutes. The California Health and Safety Code is the code covering the subject areas of health and safety.-External links:...

  • California Insurance Code
    California Insurance Code
    The California Insurance Code are the codified California laws regarding insurance. The code not only covers requirements for home, auto, medical and business insurance policies, but also covers the licensing of bail bond agents, workers' compensation, motor club services, and other related...

  • California Labor Code
    California Labor Code
    The California Labor Code, more formally known as "the Labor Code" is a collection of civil law statutes for the State of California. The code is made up of statutes which govern the general obligations and rights of persons within the jurisdiction of the State of California.-Division 1...

  • California Military and Veterans Code
  • California Penal Code
    California Penal Code
    The Penal Code of California forms the basis for the application of criminal law in the American state of California. It was originally enacted in 1872 as one of the original four California Codes, and has been substantially amended and revised since then....

  • California Probate Code
  • California Public Contract Code
  • California Public Resources Code
  • California Public Utilities Code
  • California Revenue and Taxation Code
  • California Streets and Highways Code
  • California Unemployment Insurance Code
  • California Vehicle Code
    California Vehicle Code
    The California Vehicle Code contains almost all statutes relating to the operation, ownership and registration of vehicles in the state of California in the United States...

  • California Water Code
  • California Welfare and Institutions Code

Influence elsewhere

The California Codes were highly influential in a number of other U.S. jurisdictions, especially Puerto Rico. For example, on March 1, 1901, Puerto Rico enacted a Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure which were modeled after the California Penal Code, and on March 10, 1904, it enacted a Code of Civil Procedure modeled after the California Code of Civil Procedure. Thus, California case law interpreting those codes was treated as persuasive authority in Puerto Rico.

In 1941, the Puerto Rican Legislative Assembly joined the nationwide movement towards transferring civil procedure and evidentiary law into a system of rules promulgated by the courts, then abolished the judicial power to promulgate rules in 1946, then reinstated it in 1952 (subject to the right of the legislature to amend court rules before they went into effect). Eventually, after much of its content was superseded by the Rules of Civil Procedure and the Rules of Evidence, most of the Code of Civil Procedure of Puerto Rico was rendered obsolete and was therefore repealed. However, although the Penal Code of Puerto Rico underwent extensive recodification and renumbering in 1974, many of its sections still bear a strong resemblance to their California relatives.

The Code of Guam, implemented in 1933 by Governor George A. Alexander
George A. Alexander
George Andrew Alexander was a United States Navy Captain who served as the 35th Naval Governor of Guam. Prior to serving as governor, he commanded the USS Medusa. As Governor of Guam, he greatly changed the judicial system by purging the island of leftover Spainish laws and replacing them with the...

, were modeled after the California Codes.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.