This is the "Primary Sources" page of the "California Criminal Law & Procedure" guide.
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California Criminal Law & Procedure  

Last Updated: May 30, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Free vs. Pay Databases?

Many times you will be able to google some primary sources.  This is a cost effective way of locating the law.  It is also easy to paste and copy code sections  into your briefs and memos.   What you will be missing in the free online versions of the code are the annotations.  Annotated codes are more helpful to rasearch because the annotations provide citations, and sometimes direct links, to materials which will explain the law.  They will also provide citations to relevent case law.   In the end  it is not a question of what database to use when you are looking at codes and statutes, but why you are looking for the code in the first place.  


Primary Sources


California has two annotated sets of codes:  Deering’s, published by LexisNexis and available on LexisNexis and West’s published by Westlaw and available on Westlaw.  Annotated codes provide the controlling law but also cite to relevant cases.  In criminal law and procedure, the annotated codes are an invaluable resource.  Generally most criminal laws can be found in the California Penal Code.  However, selected sections of the Vehicle Code, Government Code, Business and Professions Code, Welfare and Institutions Code, and Health and Safety Code may be controlling.  An example is illegal drug possession is in the Health and Safety Code.  The California codes are shelved in the California room on the Library’s first floor.  The California Codes (unannotated) can also be found on the state government web site:



Court Rules:

Rules for criminal cases are set out in Title 4 of the California Rules of Court (rules 4.1-4.601).  They are available in both set of codes.  They can also be found on the state government web site:  Local court rules may also be applicable.  They are available on the same state government web site and in the library (KFC 992 A2).



Librarians are always available to help you with any of the resources listed or for further guidance on this topic. We are always expanding our electronic resources and other materials.


Librarians staff the reference desk seven days a week. Generally, the hours are Monday-Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m; and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. You can always pop in to one of our offices as well.    

Other contact methods:

E-mail reference librarians at

Call reference librarians at (213) 738-6725.


Can't find a publication on WestlawNext or Lexis Advance? Come to the reference desk and let us help you find it.


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