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North Dakota Sex Offenses

Sex-related offenses in North Dakota range from Class A misdemeanors to Class AA felonies, carrying possible prison sentences from less than a year for a misdemeanor to life imprisonment for Class AA felonies. The difference between a felony or misdemeanor charge depends on the specific facts of the case as applied to the law. The North Dakota Century Code has very detailed definitions of the charges, taking many factors into account. The difference in age between the parties and associations with hazing or initiation are all factors the prosecution will consider when deciding what charges to bring.

Offender Registration

In addition to the criminal penalties, people convicted of sex offenses may have to register with the state.  Federal law requires that states notify the public about offenders who constitute a risk to the community. North Dakota complies with this requirement by maintaining a sex offender registry, which is a list available to the public.

The Attorney General’s office conducts an investigation, separate from the criminal proceedings, and assigns each offender a “risk level.” Depending on the risk level assigned, offenders may have to register for fifteen years, twenty-five years, or for life. Registered offenders are also required to update local law enforcement agencies every time they move to a new address and provide updates on their status every thirty or ninety days. Failing to register or to update law enforcement about moving is a separate criminal offense with additional penalties.

Other Restrictions

A conviction for a sex offense can entail other restrictions. Offenders deemed to be “high risk” may not live near schools, parks, or daycare facilities. Offenders of all levels are generally prohibited from being on school property, including sports facilities. Employers are legally allowed to consider sex offender registration status in making hiring decisions. Similarly, landlords may legally decline to rent to registered offenders.

Statute of Limitations

North Dakota law requires that criminal charges be brought within a certain amount of time after the alleged offense was committed. Generally, this period of time is three years when the alleged offense is a felony. Sex offenses are governed by a more complicated statute of limitations. For example, charges for gross sexual imposition (which includes offenses commonly called rape, sexual acts with an intoxicated or incapacitated person, and sexual contact with a minor under the age of fifteen) may be brought up to seven years after the alleged offense occurred. If the alleged offense occurred while the victim was under the age of eighteen, charges can be brought for three years starting at the time the alleged offense was first reported to law enforcement. This can result in charges being brought decades after the alleged incident occurred if the victim did not report the incident at the time.

How Sand Law Can Help

Sex crime statutes are complicated and the details are very significant. Starting with the prosecutor’s choice of charges, continuing through trial, and potentially for years following a conviction, small details can greatly impact the seriousness of the charges and the long-term burdens of offender registration. Sand Law’s experienced criminal defense attorneys aggressively represent clients from outset of legal proceedings to ensure that every client enjoys the presumption of innocence that he or she deserves. The state has the burden to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a crime occurred. Many times, sex offense charges are brought with very little evidence. Through a rigorous discovery process, Sand Law will comb through the state’s evidence and evaluate the case. Our attorneys have a proven track record of demonstrating to prosecutors that a case should never have been brought in the first place, resulting in a dismissal. If a case proceeds to trial, Sand Law’s team of experienced trial lawyers who practice across the state and in Federal court. With offices in Watford City, Williston, Bismarck, and Minot, Sand Law is positioned to represent our clients in any type of sex offense case anywhere in the state.