North Dakota Criminal Defense Lawyers, Sand Law PLLC | Williston, Watford City, Minot, & Bismarck
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North Dakota Criminal Defense Attorneys

Being charged with a crime in North Dakota can be one of the most serious and stressful circumstances one faces during their life. It is important that you hire an experienced, well-respected North Dakota criminal defense attorney that will fight for your rights.

Sand Law: Your North Dakota Criminal Defense Law Firm

The attorneys at Sand Law, PLLC have handled countless criminal cases at all stages of litigation. From administrative hearings to jury trials, our lawyers provide tough, intelligent, and compassionate representation. Whether you have been charged with a low-level misdemeanor or a serious felony, you need a North Dakota criminal defense lawyer. Contact our office for a free initial consultation.

Click here to review our exceptional case results: View Our Recent Case Results

Frequently Asked Questions about North Dakota Criminal Law

What is criminal law?

Criminal law is a system of rules that defines what is considered a crime and how the government might prosecute an individual that commits a crimes. Federal, state, and local governments all have different laws pertaining to different crimes. Something that is illegal on the federal level may be legal on the state level. For example, marijuana possession is legal in many states, however it is illegal at the federal level; that is, the United States considers it a crime.

Each of the these levels of government prohibit certain actions and have a defined punishment for that criminal offense. For example, if a person in North Dakota physically assaults another person, they may be charged with the state offense of assault.  Individuals who violate a law can face many different punishments, including community services, restitution, monetary fines, probation, or incarceration in a county jail or state prison.

Like a personal injury lawsuit in which a person files a lawsuit against another person, in a criminal offense, the lawsuits is filed by the government against the alleged criminal. These proceedings are handled by someone known as a prosecuting attorneys who act on behalf of the government to enforce and prosecute the law.

What is a crime in North Dakota?

A crime is “any act or omission of an act in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it”. What constitutes a crime is defined by statute (or a specific law); statutes vary from state to state and government to government.

[For a list of federal crimes, click here.]

[For a list of North Dakota criminal laws click here.]

Criminal laws in North Dakota can usually be characterized into two classes:

Felonies include serious crimes, like murder and are usually punishable by incarceration for a year or more. Misdemeanors are less serious criminal offenses and are punishable by probation, less than a year in jail, or fines.

How are North Dakota crimes prosecuted?

North Dakota criminal laws typically break crimes down into:

  • an act (the “actus reus”), and
  • a mental state (“mens rea”)

In order to be convicted of a crime in North Dakota, a state prosecutor must prove that the defendant meets both of these elements. This means that a person must commit the unlawful act (actus reus) and must have done it intentionally or known it was wrong while doing it (mens rea).

A prosecutor cannot simple say that a defendant committed a crime, but instead must prove each and every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt in order for a defendant to be convicted.

How does Sand Law handle a North Dakota criminal case?

  1. 1. Case Review
  2. 2. Negotiating the Case
  3. 3. Trial
  1. 1. We review the case

First, it is important to conduct an in-depth case evaluation. That means that the very first thing our attorneys do is compile all of the discovery in your case. Discovery generally all police reports, witness statements, audio/video evidence, reports, and crime lab evidence. Out attorneys then go through the evidence with a fine-tooth comb, searching for any legal, factual, statutory, or constitutional issues. Depending on the facts of your case, it may be necessary to submit a motion to suppress evidence or to dismiss the case. That is why an in-depth review is vital to any case evaluation.

  1. 2. We negotiate the case

Next, we discuss your case with the prosecution and relay any potential plea agreement negotiations with you. From this point, discuss with you the best strategy moving forward. This may entail accepting a plea deal in order to avoid jail time or to keep a crime off of your record.

  1. 3. We prepare for trial.

Finally, if after we discuss plea agreement options and decide it is in your best interest to forego that process – we take your case to trial. Our attorneys have an abnormally high success rate at trial, having secured multiple victories for both felony and misdemeanor cases.

[Click here for What You Need to Know when Arrested in North Dakota.]

overview of criminal law in north dakota - sand law pllc

What types of criminal cases does Sand Law handle?

  • APC (Actual Physical Control)
  • Arson
  • Assault and Battery
  • Bribery
  • Burglary, Shoplifting, Theft, and Robbery
  • Child Abuse and Child Pornography
  • Computer Crimes
  • Controlled Substances Violation and Drug Crimes
  • Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft
  • DUS (Driving Under Suspension)
  • DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicate/Impaired)
  • Embezzlement
  • Expungements
  • Felonies
  • Fraud, White Collar Crimes, and Money Laundering
  • Homicide, Murder, and Manslaughter
  • Juvenile Crimes
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape, Sex Crimes, and Sexual Abuse
  • Reckless Driving
  • Weapons Crimes


Where does Sand Law practice?

We handle cases throughout the entire State of North Dakota. Sand Law PLLC has offices in:

We are strategically located to serve you legal needs. Not only do we serve the exact areas where we have offices. We serve all of the areas around each office and across North Dakota.

Sand Law, PLLC represents North Dakotans in the following Courts:

  • Burleigh County
  • McKenzie County
  • Morton County
  • Mountrail County
  • Stark County
  • Ward County
  • Williams County
  • Bottineau County
  • Dunn County
  • McHenry County
  • McLean County
  • Mercer County
  • Pierce County
  • Watford City
  • Williston City
  • Minot City
  • Bismarck City
  • Mandan City
  • and All of North Dakota

Types of Cases Sand Law Handles:

North Dakota DUI/DWI Charge

If you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or for driving while intoxicated or impaired, for example driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in North Dakota, you need to get the help of a DUI attorney. A DUI or DWI charge could result in serious penalties and will definitely negatively affect your life. It may be expensive, it could cost you your job, you may have limited transportation options, and you could face other criminal penalties. A DUI attorney like Sand Law PLLC may be able to have your DUI or DWI charge reduced.

North Dakota Assault Charge

If you have been accused of willfully causing bodily harm to another person, you may be charged with assault in the state of North Dakota. You may be charged with simple assault or assault depending on the amount of injury you allegedly caused the victim. Assault can run the gambit on its level severity, including Aggravated Assault, Reckless Endangerment, Felony, and Misdemeanor. Assault can be classified as a Class B Felony, Class C Felony, Class A Misdemeanor, Class B Misdemeanor.

North Dakota Drug Related Offenses

Possession of controlled substances can vary greatly in North Dakota and so can the penalties for possession. North Dakota classifies many drugs as controlled substances, like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Illegally making, possessing, or selling drugs can be classified as misdemeanors or felonies and can cause serious disruption in one’s life. North Dakota classifies drugs into something called schedules, from Schedule I which are considered the most dangerous drugs to Schedule V which are considered the least dangerous.

North Dakota Sex Crimes

Sex crimes are defined by violence during a sexual act, lack of consent, or engaging in a sexual act with an individual who is legally incapable of consent. Sex crimes can have serious consequences and may require incarceration and registration as a sex offender. This can seriously impact a person’s job, housing, and social opportunities.

North Dakota Serious Felonies

North Dakota categorizes felony crimes into four categories: Class AA, Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class AA felonies are the most serious in North Dakota, while Class C offenses are the least serious.

For information on misdemeanors, see North Dakota Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.

Felonies in North Dakota have a maximum possible penalty, meaning there is limit on the amount of punishment imposed. This depends on the class level:

Class AA: Up to life imprisonment without parole

A: Up to 20 years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines

B: Up to 10 years’ imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines

C: Up to five years’ imprisonment and up to $5,000 in fines

North Dakota Theft and Burglary

Theft crimes involve the taking of the property of another with the intent to deprive them of it permanently. Theft is often categorized into two different categories: larceny and theft crime. Larceny is defined as: the unauthorized taking of another person’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of the use of the property. So, the basic distinction between robbery and larceny is that robbery involves the use of force, whereas larceny doesn’t,

  • Threats
  • Fraud

North Dakota Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws

North Dakota’s state prosecuting attorneys must file criminal charges against the accused within a certain period of time. This limited time period is known as the criminal statute of limitations. These time limitations vary depending on the type of crime committed.

The time period usually begins on the day the crime was committed, but this can vary depending on the circumstances. This is to prevent someone from leaving the state in order to wait for the clock to run out, or some other similar circumstances. In those cases, the time limit would not begin until the person is living back in North Dakota and their location is known.

North Dakota’s Statute of Limitations helps to:

  • preserve evidence and witness testimony
  • create an incentive to solve crimes quickly
  • and maintain fairness by allowing for an accurate trial.

In North Dakota, there is no statute of limitations for murder. For child victims under the age of 15, the statute of limitations does not begin until they reach the age of 15. All misdemeanors in the state of North Dakota have a two-year statute of limitations.

More information about North Dakota Statute of Limitations can be found under Chapter 29-04.

To summarize the time limits that the state has to bring charges:

Statute of Limitations on Felonies

Statutes of Limitations for felonies vary based on the crime. The statutes of limitations in North Dakota for felony charges is three years.

For murder in North Dakota, there is no Statute of Limitations. For sexual abuse of a child, the statute of limitations is 21 years.

Statute of Limitations on Misdemeanors

The North Dakota Statute of Limitations for misdemeanors is two (2) years.

Statute of Limitations on Crimes Against a Child

If a minor victim was under the age of 15 at the time of the crime, the statutes of limitations doesn’t begin until they reach the age of 15. This adds years to the statutes for crimes against children.

How can I contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in North Dakota near me?

If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense in the state of North Dakota, contact the aggressive and experienced attorneys at Sand Law PLLC. We have the resources, experience, and zeal to defend our clients in the best way possible in order to dismiss or lessen your charge. Call 701-609-1510 or email us for a criminal case consultation.


340 N. Main St. Suite 209
PO Box 1933
Watford City, ND 58854

Phone Number: 701-609-1510
Email Address: [email protected]
Fax Number: 888-795-1753


125 Main Street #215
Williston, ND 58801

Phone Number: 701-609-1510
Email Address: [email protected]
Fax Number: 888-795-1753


523 E Bismarck Expy, Ste 3
Bismarck, ND 58504

Phone Number: 701-609-1510
Email Address: [email protected]
Fax Number: 888-795-1753


24 Main St N Suite J
Minot, ND 58701

Phone Number: 701-609-1510
Email Address: [email protected]
Fax Number: 888-795-1753

Fargo, ND:

1532 32nd Ave S Suite 102A
Fargo, ND 58103

Phone Number: 701-609-1510
Email Address: [email protected]
Fax Number: 888-795-1753