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Criminal Law in North Dakota

When you are researching North Dakota criminal defense attorneys, it’s okay to ask questions before making your hiring selection.

Common questions, when hiring a criminal defense attorney, include:

  • How will you help me?
  • Do you handle just criminal defense or do you represent client in other legal areas of practice?
  • Are you licensed in North Dakota?
  • Have you handled drunk-driving (domestic violence, murder, assault, theft, burglary, etc.) charges before?
  • Do you carry malpractice insurance?
  • What are your fees and payment terms?
  • How do I communicate with you once I’ve hired you?
  • How fast will you call me back if I have a question or concern?

If you have questions about criminal defense, this article was written for you and we’ll discuss:

  • North Dakota criminal laws;
  • What you need to know about criminal defense in North Dakota; and
  • How to work with your North Dakota criminal defense attorney.

North Dakota Criminal Laws

North Dakota criminal laws are found in the North Dakota Criminal Code – it’s Title 12.1 of the North Dakota Century Code.

There are many crimes listed in the North Dakota Penal Code. Here is a sampling: public intoxication, assault and battery, indecent exposure, domestic abuse, child pornography, prostitution, forgery, identity theft, credit card fraud, bad checks, stalking, computer crimes, drug crimes, arson, drunk driving, weapon crimes, and murder.

Your North Dakota criminal defense attorney will fully explain the crime you are being questioned for or have been charged with.

Statute of Limitations
Criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time or be forever barred. It’s not likely that you will be charged if the statute of limitations has passed, but your defense lawyer will double check.

For example, in North Dakota, the statute of limitations for:

  • Assault is 2 or 3 years (N.D. Cent. Code §§ 29-04-02 and 29-04-03).
  • Burglary is 3 years (N.D. Cent. Code В§29-04-03).
  • Disorderly Conduct is 3 years (N.D. Cent. Code В§29-04-03).

North Dakota does not have the death penalty. It was abolished in 1973 and the last execution was in 1930.

A North Dakota judge can impose a sentence that includes jail, probation, fines, community service, restitution, counseling, education, or a combination of all these penalties. North Dakota does not have legislative sentencing guidelines so judges have full discretion.

Your defense attorney will explain the likely punishment you are facing after he or she analyzes the charges, your criminal history, and any other aggravating or mitigating circumstances.

What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense

This is what you need to do as soon as you’ve been arrested or seriously questioned in connection with a crime.

  • Calla North Dakota criminal defense lawyer, immediately. It’s okay to call 24/7/365. Initial consultations are free in criminal defense cases.
  • When your lawyer asks you what happened, explain in detail. This is the only way your attorney and formulate an appropriate defense. If in doubt, disclose the information even if you think the information may implicate you in a crime.
  • Remember that your conversations with your defense attorney are confidential.
  • Do not make a statement to police, other than to ask for an attorney.

How to Work with a North Dakota Criminal Defense Lawyer

Even after you hire a North Dakota defense attorney, you need to take an active role in your own defense. Do everything on this list:

  • Always take your lawyer’s advice.
  • Tell your defense attorney exactly what happened.
  • Respond to law firm phone calls, emails, or letters immediately.
  • Provide all requested information.
  • Stay in contact with your attorney and update your attorney’s office if your phone number, email, or address changes.
  • Remember that it is in your best interest for your attorney to question you, even if it feels as though he or she is giving you a hard time.
  • Remember it is okay for your attorney to be polite and cooperate with witnesses, the victim, police officers, investigators, and the prosecutor.

Bottom Line: You can search for a North Dakota criminal defense lawyer on our site,, or ask the bar association or a friend for a referral.

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