California Codes can be keyword searched from the official State of California site. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes.xhtml
To browse or to keyword search, use LexisNexis Academic. http://library.csustan.edu/s/purl.php?319
From the menu on the left, choose US Legal, then State Statutes, Codes, and Regulations. Choose California from the drop-down, then check Statutory Code. Then browse California Codes, or keyword search.
US Codes can be browsed or searched by citation from the Cornell Law site: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/
Another way is to use LexisNexis Academic. http://library.csustan.edu/s/purl.php?319
From the menu on the left, choose US Legal, then Federal Statutes, Codes, and Regulations. Browse Annotated US Code (USCS) to a type of law you want, such as Title 18, Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, then drill down to an actual law. Or with Annotated US Code checked, keyword search.
When keyword searching in LexisNexis, keep in mind that your keywords may appear in the extensive notes of a code, rather than in the title or actual law.
Keep in mind that for pre-1995 information, you may have to use the print New York Times Index and the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature in the reference room to identify articles, then go to the microfiche to view them. Also, JSTOR is a database that indexes older journal literature.
Use as keywords the criminal's real name as well as nickname.
Here are two print encyclopedias in the reference room of the library. See the librarian for more help.