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How to Find and Research Alabama Law and Statutes on the Internet
How to Access and Use the Alabama Code
Like all states, Alabama is an independent sovereign. The Alabama legislature passes laws for its own state independent of US federal law. Alabama statutes are found in the Alabama Code. FindLaw.com publishes the code online. You can use the code to do free legal research on Alabama statutes. However, keep in mind that using the Alabama Code to do research should be just a preliminary fact-gathering exercise. The text found online could also be out of date, so you need to contact an Alabama lawyer for current and specific advice.
Additionally, lawyers do research on case law and other types of law to find the most relevant and specific legal information. Using the text of any state code or statute will not cover all aspects of the law. A professional database like Lexis-Nexis or Westlaw is expensive, so only lawyers or other professional organizations can usually pay for these resources.
Access the Alabama Code on FindLaw. Use the search feature to enter keywords. Using a search feature for an entire code of statutes will often return mixed results. You may find what you are looking for, but you will have to wade through a great deal of irrelevant results to find it.
Therefore, you should consider just finding broad categories of information first to find the subject of the law you are researching. The Alabama Code is organized in separate titles. Try to find the basic title corresponding to your legal research. For example, let's say that you are looking for child custody. You can look for this information in the title related to marriage. You can look for Alabama child custody statutes in Title 30, which is "Marital and Domestic Relations." Similarly, let's say you want to incorporate a business. You would look under Title 10, which is "Corporations, Partnerships and Associations." You will find Alabama business law in that title.
When you click on a Title section for the Alabama Code, you will get a list of Chapters. When you click on a Chapter section, you may also get Articles. Drill down through the Titles, Chapters, and Articles to find the statutes you are trying to research.
You may also need to research the Alabama Constitution and Alabama Attorney General opinions. The Constitution gives the power to the legislature to pass laws and may also limit the legislature's authority. The Attorney General may issue opinions on the law in Alabama. Use these to help interpret the text of any statutes that you find.
As always, research on specific matters in the law should be left to an Alabama lawyer. Attorneys have the resources to research statutes, case law, constitutional law, administrative law and all the other laws that apply in the complex legal system.