Massachusetts General Laws,
also known as the General Laws of Massachusetts
, is a codification of many of the statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...
. The Commonwealth's laws are promulgated by an elected bicameral legislative body
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...
, the Massachusetts General Court
The Massachusetts General Court is the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The name "General Court" is a hold-over from the Colonial Era, when this body also sat in judgment of judicial appeals cases...
. The General Court amends the General Laws
by enacting session laws
, which are published chronologically as the Acts and Resolves
. Session law may effect modifications and additions in the General Laws. Not all session laws, which apply equally to codified law, are entered into the General Laws.
In legal citations, Massachusetts General Laws are abbreviated as M.G.L. or G.L. Provisions in the General Laws
are identified by chapter and section, e.g., . Chapters are grouped topically by part
. The parts
of the General Laws are as follows:
I. Administration of Government
; II. Real and Personal Property and Domestic Relations
; III. Courts, Judicial Officers, and Proceedings in Civil Cases
; IV. Crimes, Punishments, and Proceedings in Criminal Cases
; V. The General Laws and Express Repeal of Certain Acts and Resolves.
The unannotated official version of the General Laws
is published every two years. Two widely-used annotated collections are Massachusetts General Laws Annotated
(M.G.L.A.) from West Publishing, and Annotated Laws of Massachusetts
(A.L.M.) published by LexisNexis
LexisNexis Group is a company providing computer-assisted legal research services. In 2006 it had the world's largest electronic database for legal and public-records related information...
. Both are available as bound collections and by subscription online.
The General Laws replaced the General Statutes, which are abbreviated as G.S. when cited in lists of local-option statutes accepted by cities and towns.
The Massachusetts Constitution
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the fundamental governing document of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one of the 50 individual state governments that make up the United States of America. It was drafted by John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Bowdoin during the...
expressly grants to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is the highest court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The SJC has the distinction of being the oldest continuously functioning appellate court in the Western Hemisphere.-History:...
the power to review and interpret these laws.