North Dakota Domestic Violence
North Dakota recently expanded its domestic violence laws to include a separate crime category for offenses involving acts of domestic violence, including assault, physical harm, bodily injury, sexual assault, or threats of assault, physical harm, bodily injury or sexual assault. Under these new laws, domestic violence offenses can be prosecuted as misdemeanors or felonies and a conviction can result in severe, long-lasting penalties, possibly including up to 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines, among other harsh consequences. If you have been arrested or charged with domestic violence in North Dakota, it is in your best interest to enlist the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with experience handling domestic violence cases. With a skilled domestic violence defense lawyer on your side, you can significantly improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case.
North Dakota Domestic Violence Laws
Prior to February 2019, North Dakota domestic violence offenses were lumped into the state’s simple assault category. However, in an effort to improve domestic violence data collection and secure better funding for domestic violence crisis centers, the House of Representatives voted on February 15, 2019 to classify domestic violence as its own category of criminal offense. With the passage of HB1393, domestic violence is now covered under section 14-07.1 of the North Dakota Century Code, which defines domestic violence as “physical harm, bodily injury, sexual activity compelled by physical force, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, sexual activity compelled by physical force, or assault, not committed in self-defense, on the complaining family or household members” (North Dakota Century Code § 14-07.1-01). The domestic violence statute further defines “family or household member” as a:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Family member
- Person to whom the accused is related by blood or marriage
- Person with whom the accused is in a dating relationship
- Person with whom the accused currently lives or formerly lived
- Person with whom the accused has a child in common, whether or not they have ever been married or lived together
- Any other person with a sufficient relationship to the accused (for the purpose of the issuance of a domestic violence protection order)
Some other criminal offenses related to domestic violence in North Dakota include harassment, stalking, assault, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, terrorizing, menacing and criminal coercion.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Charges in North Dakota
The crime of simple assault in North Dakota is typically considered a class B misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum penalty of 30 days’ imprisonment, $1,500 in fines, or both. However, if you are accused of willfully causing bodily injury to a family or household member (North Dakota Century Code § 12.1-17-01.2(2)(a)), you may be prosecuted for domestic violence rather than assault. As a first offense, this crime is considered a class B misdemeanor, while a second or subsequent charge is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 360 days, $3,000 in fines, or both. If you are accused of willfully causing substantial bodily injury to a family or household member (North Dakota Century Code § 12.1-17-01.2(2)(b)), the crime may be charged as a class A misdemeanor for a first offense. If you are accused of willfully causing serious bodily injury to a family or household member (North Dakota Century Code § 12.1-17-01.2(2)(c)), the crime may be charged as a class C felony, punishable by a maximum penalty of imprisonment for five years, $10,000 in fines, or both. For a domestic violence offense that causes substantial or serious bodily injury to a family or household member, in which the alleged victim is under the age of 12, the crime may be charged as a class B felony, punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, $20,000 in fines, or both.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders
Allegations of domestic violence in North Dakota can result in two distinct legal proceedings – a criminal case and a domestic violence restraining order. Any family or household member alleging the existence of domestic violence in North Dakota can petition the court for a domestic violence protection order against the alleged offender. Per North Dakota Century Code § 14-07.1-02, the terms set forth in a protection order may include any or all of the following:
- Restraining the accused (the respondent) from threatening, harassing, injuring, molesting or contacting the alleged victim (the petitioner),
- Excluding the respondent from the home he or she shares with the petitioner,
- Awarding temporary custody or establishing temporary visitation rights with regard to minor children,
- Recommending that the respondent undergo domestic violence counseling,
- Requiring the respondent to pay spousal or child support to the petitioner,
- Awarding the petitioner temporary use of personal property, including motor vehicles, and
- Requiring the respondent to surrender any firearm or other dangerous weapon.
If the court grants the alleged victim a domestic violence restraining order and you violate any terms set forth in the order, you could face additional criminal charges for a class A misdemeanor. A second or subsequent violation of a domestic violence protection order is a class C felony in North Dakota.
Contact a North Dakota Domestic Violence Attorney Today
North Dakota has strict laws in place that prohibit acts of domestic violence, and if you are accused of assault by a family or household member in North Dakota, you could end up being arrested and charged with a serious criminal offense. In fact, North Dakota Century Code § 14-07.1-11 gives the police the authority to make a domestic violence arrest without a warrant if the arrest is made within 12 hours from the time the officers determine that there is probable cause to believe that an assault of a family or household member has occurred. The best thing you can do after being arrested for domestic violence in North Dakota is to retain the services of an experienced domestic violence defense attorney. Even if you have not yet been charged, having a competent North Dakota defense lawyer get to work on your case right away maximizes your chances of success.