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How to look up laws in Georgia

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If you have wondered how to look up laws in Georgia, this article is going to provide you with a basic overview.  You may be wondering how to look up a law because you got a speeding ticket and you wondered what is the law that is written in at O.C.G.A. 40-6-181?  Maybe you got a ticket or were arrested for possession of marijuana and are wondering what law actually says at O.C.G.A. 16-13-30 or O.C.G.A. 16-13-2.  These O.C.G.A. code sections show up almost any time you are dealing with state law violations, such as tickets, citations, arrest warrants, accusations, or indictments.

What is O.C.G.A.?

First, you may be wondering “what is O.C.G.A.?”  O.C.G.A. is the abbreviation for the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, which is the collection of all the state laws.  Any time you see O.C.G.A. in front of a set of numbers, it is referencing a Georgia law.

What do the different numbers mean?

Next, you may be wondering, what is the significance of each of the three numbers between the dashes.  The first number is the Title, the second number is the Chapter, and the last number points you to the specific law in that Title and Chapter.  Georgia has 53 different titles that cover all areas of the law in Georgia.  The ones that are the most relevant to our clients tend to be:

  • Title 15 – Courts
  • Title 16 – Crimes and Offenses
  • Title 17 – Criminal Procedure
  • Title 40 – Motor Vehicles and Traffic

Within each of those Titles there are a number of chapters.  To use the examples above of a Speeding Ticket or of a Possession of Marijuana charge, this is how they break down.

Possession of Marijuana is usually charged as a violation of O.C.G.A. 16-13-30 or O.C.G.A. 16-13-2.  We know from what is mentioned above that Title 16 is Crimes and Offenses.  Then when we look at Chapter 13 in Title 16, we can see that Chapter 13 is Controlled Substances.  If you then look at O.C.G.A. 16-13-30, you’ll see that section is called: “Purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution, or sale of controlled substances or marijuana; penalties.”

Similarly, a speeding ticket is usually charged as a violation of O.C.G.A. 40-6-181.  Title 40 is Motor Vehicles and Traffic and Chapter 6 in Title 40 is Uniform Rules of the Road.  When you specifically look at O.C.G.A. 40-6-181, you will see it is called: “Maximum limits.”

Where can I look up Georgia laws for free?

With this understanding you can go to a free version of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated by visiting this link: http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/gacode/default.asp

Cautionary Notes: Reading versus Interpreting Laws

While you may be ready to look up the laws, there are a few cautionary notes you should be aware of.

A lot of laws go together, so you may only be seeing part of a picture when you look up the laws by looking up a single statute.

Another issue you may have is that lawyers don’t only look at the laws they are looking up, they also look at how the laws they look up are being interpreted.  In the versions of the laws that attorneys pay for, there are listings of where the Georgia Court of Appeals, Georgia Supreme Court, and U.S. Supreme Court have interpreted those laws or constitutional issues.

When you are looking up laws on your own, you may be able to access the text, but you will need more information to ensure you have a full understanding of those laws. A misinterpretation of the law could have significant consequences for you.  This is especially true when facing a criminal, juvenile or traffic law case.

If you or a loved one are facing a Georgia criminal, juvenile, or traffic law matter, contact us to schedule a complimentary Defense Strategy Meeting by calling 770-720-6336.

If you aren’t ready to schedule your Defense Strategy Meeting, please click here to download a free copy of our book, 5 Things Not to Do After You’ve Been Charged with a Crime. 

 
Paul Ghanouni

Experience, Expertise

 
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