The official codification of North Carolina statutory law is the General Statutes of North Carolina Annotated. The state's official statutory code is published by Lexis and contains public laws currently in force in North Carolina, arranged by subject matter.
A new edition of the General Statutes of North Carolina Annotated is published every two years on the odd-numbered year, with interim supplements issued during the even-numbered years to reflect any new statutes or amendments to current statutes that occur in between new editions. Thus, researchers relying on the print versions of North Carolina's statutory code must take care to look in the most recent edition and to check the interim supplements for any changes to statutes of interest.
Annotated codes are excellent tools for researchers because they provide additional primary and secondary law sources related to sections within the statutory code. The annotations that accompany statutes contain references to regulations and case law interpreting and applying the statute, and secondary sources are also identified that help to explain complex statutory language and its application.
There are two annotated code publications containing North Carolina statutory law. Researchers should review both versions, because while the statutes themselves will be the same, the annotations accompanying those statutes will be different depending upon the version consulted.
Note: UNC Law faculty and students can access annotated versions of North Carolina's statutory code via their Lexis and Westlaw database subscriptions. See below for a more complete description of these resources.
The following is a list of databases and websites that provide access to the current version of the North Carolina statutory code. If you are interested in learning more about historic (also known as "superseded") codes, please view the next section of this research guide.
UNC Law faculty and students can access the North Carolina statutory code via their subscription databases. Remember that each of these resources provides access to annotated versions of the North Carolina statutory code:
There are various free, online sources that provide access to unofficial versions of the North Carolina statutory code. Remember that these sources are unofficial and do not contain annotations. Be sure to check these sources for their updating information to ensure that you are looking at current material. Of the sources listed below, the most reliable will be the North Carolina statutory code available via the North Carolina General Assembly's website.
Occasionally, legal researchers need to reference laws that are no longer in force, or they need to reference earlier versions of statutes before current amendments went into effect. The most recent edition of the state's statutory code contains only public laws that are currently in force, and they do not include superseded statutes. Thus, legal researchers need to reference earlier versions of North Carolina's statutory code to determine what the law was during a specific period in time.
The term "superseded" is used in the legal field to refer to outdated versions of primary legal materials, including statutes and regulations. Superseded codes are often referenced when legal researchers need to understand what the law was in a certain year.
Throughout its history, North Carolina's statutory code has been revised and/or recodified numerous times and in various formats. The following chart provides a basic outline of the types of statutory publications historically used in North Carolina:
|Time Period||Description of Statutory Publication|
|1776-1943||This is the period of what is commonly known as the historical statutes. These compilations of North Carolina statutory law were published as single volumes by various private individuals/publishers, and there was not a fixed publication schedule. HeinOnline's State Statutes: A Historical Archive provides access to most of these statutory publications.|
|1943-1979||During this period, North Carolina's statutory code was formally codified in expanding permanent and replacement bound volumes, accompanied by cumulative supplements, and, later, biannual interim supplements.|
|1979-1999||North Carolina's statutory code was published in looseleaf format. This publication was characterized by interfiled binders, cumulative annual supplements, and biannual interim supplements.|
|1999-Present||Under the current publication system, a complete edition of North Carolina's statutory code is published every two years on the odd-numbered year, with interim supplements published in the even-numbered years.|
The law library has a complete collection of North Carolina's superseded statutes available in print.
The following databases provide access to North Carolina's superseded statutes in digitized form.