What is the Tennessee Code Annotated?

By Jed McKeehan

The vast majority of laws that apply to individuals on a daily basis are state laws. Of course we have federal laws like the Constitution that establish many of our most important rights, but state laws generally govern our daily interactions. They govern what is considered a crime and how long a jail sentence individuals face, they govern how individuals can get divorced and establish custody, or how a will needs to be executed and legitimatized.

In Tennessee, our set of state laws is collectively called the, “Tennessee Code Annotated.” Why is that the name? I have no idea, the people who made that decision have long since passed on. The nickname for the Tennessee Code Annotated is the “T.C.A.”

If you wanted to purchase a full paper copy of the T.C.A., it would run you a few thousands dollars. However, you can find the T.C.A. in its entirety online for free, and there is even a $9.99 app that allows you to quickly access and search the T.C.A. from your phone.

The T.CA. is broken down in to 71 titles. These cover all range of topics, from “Wildlife,” to “Cemeteries,” to “Prevention and Detection of Crime.”

Lawyers typically deal with just a few of these titles while never even looking in to some titles. I sincerely doubt many lawyers have had to do any research in the title of “Animals and Animal Husbandry.”

The 71 titles that comprise the T.C.A. are broken down even further in to Chapters and then into Sections. Each Chapter under a Title starts with the number 1, and each section starts with the number 101. So that means that the very first T.C.A. is 1-1-101, which actually deals with the composition of the commission to create the T.C.A.! Each time a new chapter or section is started, the number goes back and starts at 1 or 101.

Because chapters fall under the same title, but deal with different topics, the numbers can sometimes become a mouthful and sometimes they will skip ahead from 122 to 201, to transition topics. Title 39 deals with almost all crimes so it has a whole lot of different chapters and then even more sections, reaching as high as the number 39-17-1812!

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information.

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