formal written document that creates law, including acts, executive orders, and by-laws

A statute is a written law passed by a state or federal legislature that creates a rule or regulation.[1] Statutes (also called legal codes) provide the authority for other laws.[2] Many state and federal agencies, such as the IRS, EPA and state Secretaries of State may issue regulations for the areas of the law they cover.[2] A statute usually commands something, prohibits something or declares something to be policy.[3] When there is a dispute over the meaning of a statute, a state or federal court may issue a judgment that interprets the statute more clearly. When this happens it also becomes case law.[2]

Before a statute becomes law in some countries, it must be agreed upon by the highest executive in the government. Then it is published as part of a legal code. In many countries, statutes are organized (or codified) for a particular jurisdiction. In many nations statutory law is distinguished from and is subordinate to constitutional law.


  1. "Statute". The Free Dictionary/Farlex. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Laws and Cases: How to Do Legal Research". NOLO. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  3. Harry Campbell Black, Black's Law Dictionary, Fourth Edition (St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co., 1968), p. 1581 [1] Archived 2014-07-01 at the Wayback Machine