Answered By: Jennifer Harris
Last Updated: Oct 31, 2016     Views: 22

Shapiro Library offers access to the LexisNexis database which does give you online access to federal statutes. However, it is not very easy to search for federal statutes by keyword if you do not know the exact text or wording of the statute.  I would recommend you start with a Google search (which has a much more robust and forgiving search engine) to try and find the statute that covers this situation.  You will have to play around with the keywords and it will take time. 

By using the following keywords (“United States Code” AND homicide on federal property) I was able to find out that Title 18 of the code is probably the one I need to look at.  In order to figure out which chapter and section I used Google’s site search to search Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute which has all of the codes on their Website.  I want to search the title 18 codes to see which one talks about the shooting/murder/homicide of federal employees. The search in Google looks like this:

Site:[Website you want to search] [keywords]

Site:https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/part-I federal employee AND homicide

The sixth result in my results list was Part 1 (of Title 18): chapter 51 § 1114 which speaks to this particular situation.  Now that you have the citation that you need, you can go into LexisNexis and get more details about this specific code.

You may find LexisNexis by clicking on the A-Z Database List link from the Library Home page and clicking on the All Subjects drop down menu above the alphabet and selecting Law from the list. 

Below are instructions to do a federal statute search within LexisNexis, which offers an annotated version of the statute which includes notes, history, amendments, secondary sources (cases that cite the statute) and cross references.

  1. Above the search box with the red border click on the “Search by Subject or Topic” dropdown menu.
  2. Click on Federal Statutes and Regulations.  This will bring you back to the search box with the red border. 
  3. Next, under the search box with the red border, click on Advanced Options (which allows you to limit by source type or date).  By default, all options are selected.  Choose to only search the U.S. Annotated Code (USCS). Uncheck the other boxes and be sure to click on the red Apply button when you are finished.
  4. Next you may enter in your search terms and click the Search button.  To search for the Title 18 § 1114 statute, type it in like this:  Cite(18 USCS SEC 1114) (use SEC instead of the § symbol) and then click Search.  This will take you right to the statute.
  5. Once you have the statute that you are interested in, please note that Lexis provides an option to see neighboring sections of the statute if you use the Document Browse feature in the top left corner.  Use the arrows to jump to the neighboring sections or click on the link right below it that says Show TOC to see the table of contents for that statute.  A window will open on the left that allows you to see all of the sections for that statute in order.

Another way to approach this is to just drill down to the correct title, chapter and section by using the Browse function in LexisNexis.  You can access this by opening the Advanced Options window again (located under the search box with the red border) and clicking on the hyperlink for the Annotated U.S. Code (USCS). It will bring you to a hierarchical list of the entire code which allows you to select the plus sign in front of Title 18.  Next, you would click the plus sign in front of Part I. Crimes.  Scroll down to Chapter 51. Homicide and click the plus sign.  Finally, click on §1114 to read through the text of the code, along with the full history and notes of it.

If you still are not able to find the federal statute you need after trying these steps, please contact the Reference Desk and we can help you brainstorm keywords or offer additional suggestions.

Check out these videos for more information:

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