Use of Correct Citation in California Bills and Statutes

One of the confusing aspects of describing provisions in statutes and bills is using the correct terminology.

For invoices, there are only sections. Section 1 of a bill is always written as SECTION 1. All other remaining sections of a bill are written as SEC. 2. Whether the bill has codified language or not, only the sections are used. Therefore, when describing the provisions of a bill, the reader will refer to the clause number of a bill.

For statutes, which all fall under one of 29 codes, there are sections, sub-divisions, paragraphs and sub-paragraphs. And, each of these designations uses a letter or number. Here are the terms associated with their letters or numbers:

Section 1234. – code section always has a number

Subdivision (a) – subdivision comes next and uses a lowercase letter in parentheses

Paragraph (1) – the paragraph comes next and uses a number in parentheses

Subparagraph (A) – the subparagraph comes next and uses a capital letter in parentheses

Paragraph (i) – the following paragraph uses a Roman numeral in parentheses

Therefore, when describing the provisions of a law, a reader will refer to the specific provision based on the article and whether there is a subdivision, a paragraph or even a sub-paragraph. Reading the reference, it looks like, for example, Government Code Section 1234(a)(1)(A). However, when the Legislative Counsel drafts a law or an amendment to a law, he will write: subparagraph (A) of subsection (1) of subsection (a) of section 1234.

Bernard P. Love