Being accuse of sexual assault in North Dakota could change the trajectory of your life. You have too much to lose to put your future in the hands of the prosecutor. An experience criminal defense attorney can help you fight your sexual assault charges and strive to seek the justice you deserve. Never volunteer to be prosecuted. Now is the time to get the lawyer you need on your side.

Understanding the Crime of Sexual Assault

Unlike the crimes of sexual imposition and gross sexual imposition (also known as rape), the crime of sexual assault only requires that the defendant caused sexual contact with the victim. Pursuant to North Dakota law, “sexual contact” means any touching, whether or not through the clothing or other covering, of the sexual or other intimate parts of the person, or the penile ejaculation or ejaculate or emission of urine or feces upon any part of the person, for the purpose of arousing or satisfying sexual or aggressive desires .

Sexual assault is considered an especially heinous crime in the criminal justice system. In North Dakota, the crime of sexual assault occurs when a person knowingly has sexual contact with another person or causes another person to have sexual contact with that person in and any of the following apply:

  • That person knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the contact is offensive to the other person
  • That person knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the other person suffers from a mental disease or defect which renders that other person incapable of understanding the nature of that other person’s conduct
  • That person or someone with that person’s knowledge has substantially impaired the victim’s power to appraise or control the victim’s conduct, by administering or employing without the victim’s knowledge intoxicants, a controlled substance as defined in chapter19-03.1, or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance
  • The other person is in official custody or detained in a hospital, prison, or other institution and the actor has supervisory or disciplinary authority over that other person;
  • The other person is a minor, fifteen years of age or older, and the actor is the other person’s parent, guardian, or is otherwise responsible for general supervision of the other person’s welfare
  • The other person is a minor, fifteen years of age or older, and the actor is an adult

Criminal Penalties for Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a Class A Misdemeanor if the defendant is between eighteen or older but less than twenty-two years of age at the time the offense occurred. The potential criminal penalties for Class A Misdemeanor sexual assault in North Dakota are as follows.

Maximum term of imprisonment360 days
Maximum period of probation4 years
Maximum fine$3,000
Sex offender registration required?Yes, unless the person is charged under 12.1-20-07(1)(a)

All other forms of sexual assault are considered Class C Felony offenses in the state of North Dakota. Most individuals who are charged with sexual assault in North Dakota are charged with felony sexual assault, which invokes the following penalties:

Maximum term of imprisonment5 years
Period of probation5 years to 10 years supervised probation
Maximum fine$3,000
Sex offender registration required?Yes, unless the person is charged under 12.1-20-07(1)(a)

Sexual Assault and Sex Offender Registration

Individuals charged with sexual assault in North Dakota are required to register as a sex offender if their charges are under any subsection of the North Dakota Century Code other than 12.1-20-07(1)(a). In other words, unless the only basis for the sexual assault charges is that the defendant knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the contact is offensive to the other person, sex offender registration will be required.

Sex offender registration in North Dakota greatly impedes upon the offender’s freedom. The length of registration is 15 years for low risk offenders and offenders against children, 25 years for moderate risk offender, and lifetime for high risk offenders. But a person who is required o register as a sex offender after a sexual assault case must do more than simply register. Registered sex offenders in North Dakota are subject to community monitoring and restrictions as to where they can live, who they can visit, and where they can be at any given time. Violating the restrictions is a crime within itself.

How Sexual Assault Cases Occur

Sexual assault is considered a serious crime because there is a victim who may suffer ongoing mental (or even) physical suffering as a result of the perpetrator’s acts. But sexual assault cases occur every day in North Dakota. Examples of acts that constitute sexual assault include the following:

  • A boyfriend or girlfriend unwantedly touches the other’s private parts
  • Instances in which a bargoer gropes another’s intimate areas
  • Circumstances in which a mentally-incapable person is touched inappropriately
  • Date rape scenarios in which the defendant incapacitates then arouses themselves utilizing the body of the victim
  • Cases in which a coach spanks the butt of a student-athlete

Although it may seem to go without saying, handling a criminal sexual assault case without the aid of an experienced North Dakota criminal defense lawyer is likely to yield poor results. If you have been accused of sexual assault or any other sex crime, a defense attorney can help you fight your case and assert appropriate defenses.

Establishing a Defense in Sexual Assault Cases

Hiring an attorney and having a proper defense are two different things. The reality is that most sexual assault cases are hard for the prosecutor to prove outright and even harder for the defendant to disprove. But there are a number of available defenses in any sexual assault case.

The statute of limitations for sexual assault in North Dakota is a period of three years. Accordingly, if the prosecution fails to bring charges within three years of the commission of the defense, the accused person cannot be prosecuted under the law. However, the court and prosecution will not raise this defense on your behalf. Instead, a defense attorney will need to raise the defense.

In order to be convicted of sexual assault, all elements of the offense must be proven. Accordingly, a defendant should not plead guilty to any case of sexual assault unless all of the essential elements of the underlying offense can be proven by the facts presented. In many cases, the prosecution may lack the necessary witnesses to prove the offense come the time of trial.

Consent is the most common defense to any sex offense, including sexual assault. A consent offense sets forth that the individual claiming to be a victim consented to the act and, usually, welcomed the act from the get-go. If a sexual act is invited and the victim is an adult, then the crime of sexual assault has not occurred.

North Dakota recognizes a defense called lack of criminal responsibility. Essentially, this defense provides that the defendant lacks substantial capacity to comprehend the harmful nature or consequences of the conduct, or the conduct is the result of a loss or serious distortion of the individual’s capacity to recognize reality. More commonly, this type of defense may be referred to as lack of mental capacity, insanity, or intoxication. Such a defense is common in cases involving individuals with mental disabilities at the time of the offense. However, courts in North Dakota are often hesitant to recognize intoxication as a defense.

Other defenses may be available, dependent on the specific circumstances of the sexual assault case.

North Dakota Sexual Assault Lawyer

In terms of damning potential on one’s future, sexual assault is a serious crime. But you should not assume that you will be convicted simply because you have been charged. Knowing how to assert a proper defense and avoiding the imprisonment, fines, potential restitution, and sex offender registration that come with most sexual assault charges is best-handled by a competent North Dakota sexual assault attorney. Your case is not over until sentencing. There is hope.

Finding and hiring the right lawyer can be a difficult task. But having the right lawyer on your side may be one of the most important aspects of your case. If you have been charged with sexual assault in North Dakota, now is the time to protect your future by choosing an attorney who will fight on your behalf.