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Home Page > Courts > Finding the Law > What do you need to know to find the law?

What is the "Law"?

 

Different branches of the United States and New Jersey government make law. The law is divided by the part of the government that made the law into these types:

  • Statutes. The United States Congress makes laws by passing statutes. The Immigration and Naturalization Act is an example of a federal statute. Federal statutes are published in the United States Code.

    The New Jersey Legislature also makes law by passing statutes. The Anti-Eviction Act is an example of a state statute. State statutes are published in New Jersey Statutes Annotated.

  • Case Law. Courts make law by deciding cases, which are disagreements between at least two people. A court decision states what the facts are, what the law is, and how the law applies to the facts. Courts also use cases to decide what a statute, ordinance, or regulation means. When the highest court in a court system decides a case, lower courts (courts under that court) must follow the highest court’s decision.

    Federal courts make laws by deciding cases. The highest court in the federal system is the United States Supreme Court. The other lower federal courts for New Jersey are the U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the U.S. District Court.

    New Jersey courts also make law by deciding cases. The highest court in the state system is the New Jersey Supreme Court. The other state courts for New Jersey are the Appellate Division of the Superior Court and the Superior Court.

  • Regulations. Federal administrative agencies make law by passing regulations. The laws on Social Security are an example of a federal regulation. Federal regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations.

    State administrative agencies make law by passing regulations. The law on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is an example of a state regulation. State regulations are published in the New Jersey Administrative Code.

  • Ordinances. Counties, towns, and cities make law by passing ordinances. A rent control law is an example of an ordinance.

See also Doing Legal Research on the Internet.

 

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Low-income New Jerseyans can get free legal help by phone: call our toll-free hotline at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Outside of New Jersey, please call 732-572-9100 and ask to be transferred to the hotline.