North Dakota is yet another state with excellent self-defense laws, including a robust “stand your ground” statute that has benefited from further improvements thanks to the passage of North Dakota bill HB 1498.
Citizens are allowed to use force, including deadly force, in defense of themselves, someone else, or an occupied dwelling, or to prevent the commission of a felony involving violence.
Keep reading to learn what you need to know about North Dakota’s stand your ground law and be sure to stick around after the end of the article to read the exact text of the relevant statutes with the pertinent modifications thanks to the passage of HB 1498.
What You Need to Know
Citizens of North Dakota may use force, including deadly force, to prevent the threat of death or great bodily injury to themselves or someone else, or to prevent the commission of a felony crime involving violence.Citizens have no duty to retreat so long as they are in any place they have a legal, lawful right to be, except in such cases where retreat would not place them or anyone else under any additional risk of harm.The justification of self-defense under North Dakota’s statutes is not available to those who act recklessly or negligently.
North Dakota has long been a model State concerning self-defense law, and with the recent passage of bill HB 1498 into law North Dakota’s statutes have only been reinforced on the side of citizens who are forced to defend themselves.
In short, citizens may use force, including deadly force, to protect themselves from a threat against themselves or another so long as the force used is proportional to the threat.
Any threat of death or great bodily injury, or the commission of a felony involving violence, is likely to warrant the use of deadly defensive force.
Additionally, citizens have no obligation to retreat from any place they have a legal, lawful right to be with the exception being that if retreat is both possible and would not place the citizen in question or anyone else under any additional risk of harm or loss.
The use of force in self-defense and lethal force in particular is not justified whenever someone is unlawfully in a place, committing or preparing to commit a crime, or is the initial aggressor or provocateur in an encounter.
Reckless action in the use of force also makes any claim of self-defense forfeit.
Likewise, self-defense cannot be claimed and lethal force is never justified if someone has entered into what is known as mutual combat with another person, with the sole exception to the latter instance being if the person has decided to withdraw from the mutual combat and has communicated this fact to the other party who then continues to menace or employ force against the person withdrawing.
Suffice it to say such situations are extremely sticky, legally, and you should never, ever engage in mutual hostilities with someone unless it is done in a controlled manner at a suitable gym or dojo for the purpose.
North Dakota has long been seen as something of a paragon concerning self-defense law for citizens, and the recent passage of bill HB1498 has only bolstered an already solid set of statutes.
Citizens of North Dakota may use proportional force and defense of themselves or another person when unlawful force is being used against them, up to and including lethal force, and citizens have no duty to retreat so long as they are in a place where they legally, lawfully have a right to be.
Relevant North Dakota Use of Force Statutes
***Note: The following statutes include revisions enacted by the passage of North Dakota bill H.B. No. 1498 into law. ***
1. Except as otherwise expressly provided, justification or excuse under this chapter is a defense.
2. If a person is justified or excused in using force against another, but he recklessly or negligently injures or creates a risk of injury to other persons, the justifications afforded by this chapter are unavailable in a prosecution for such recklessness or negligence.
3. That conduct may be justified or excused within the meaning of this chapter does not abolish or impair any remedy for such conduct which is available in any civil action.
A person is justified in using force upon another person to defend himself against danger of imminent unlawful bodily injury, sexual assault, or detention by such other person, except that:
1. A person is not justified in using force for the purpose of resisting arrest, execution of process, or other performance of duty by a public servant under color of law, but excessive force may be resisted.
2. A person is not justified in using force if:
a. He intentionally provokes unlawful action by another person to cause bodily injury or death to such other person; or
b. He has entered into a mutual combat with another person or is the initial aggressor unless he is resisting force which is clearly excessive in the circumstances. A person’s use of defensive force after he withdraws from an encounter and indicates to the other person that he has done so is justified if the latter nevertheless continues or menaces unlawful action.
12.1-05-04. Defense of others.
A person is justified in using force upon another person in order to defend anyone else if:
1. The person defended would be justified in defending himself; and
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2. The person coming to the defense has not, by provocation or otherwise, forfeited the right of self-defense.
12.1-05-06. Use of force in defense of premises and property.
Force is justified if it is used to prevent or terminate an unlawful entry or other trespass in or
upon premises, or to prevent an unlawful carrying away or damaging of property, if the person
using such force first requests the person against whom such force is to be used to desist from his interference with the premises or property, except that a request is not necessary if it would be useless or dangerous to make the request or substantial damage would be done to the property sought to be protected before the request could effectively be made.
12.1-05-07. Limits on the use of force – Excessive force – Deadly force.
1. An individual is not justified in using more force than is necessary and appropriate under the circumstances.
2. Deadly force is justified in the following instances:
a. When it is expressly authorized by law or occurs in the lawful conduct of war.
b. When used in lawful self-defense, or in lawful defense of others, if such force is necessary to protect the actor or anyone else against death, serious bodily injury, or the commission of a felony involving violence. The use of deadly force is not justified if it can be avoided, with safety to the actor and others, by retreat or other conduct involving minimal interference with the freedom of the individual menaced. An individual seeking to protect another individual must, before using deadly force, try to cause the other individual to retreat, or otherwise comply with the requirements of this provision, if safety can be obtained thereby. However, the duty to retreat or avoid force does not apply under the following circumstances:
(1) A public servant justified in using force in the performance of the public servant’s duties or an individual justified in using force in assisting the public servant need not desist from the public servant’s or individual’s efforts because of resistance or threatened resistance by or on behalf of the other individual against whom the public servant’s or individual’s action is directed;
(2) An individual who is not engaged in an unlawful activity that gives rise to the need for the use of deadly force and has not provoked the individual against whom the deadly force is used, unless the circumstances in subdivision b of subsection 2 of section 12.1 – 05 – 03 apply is not required to retreat within or from that individual’s dwelling or place of work or from an occupied motor home or travel trailer as defined in section 39-01-01, unless the individual was the original aggressor or is assailed by another individual who the individual knows also dwells or works there or who is lawfully in the motor home or travel trailer any place the individual otherwise is legally allowed to be.
c. When used by an individual in possession or control of a dwelling, place of work, motor vehicle, or an occupied motor home or travel trailer as defined in section 39-01-01, or by an individual who is licensed or privileged to be there, if the force is necessary to prevent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, or a felony involving violence upon or in the dwelling, place of work, motor vehicle or occupied motor home or travel trailer, and the use of force other than deadly force for these purposes would expose any individual to substantial danger of serious bodily injury.
12.1-05-07.1. Use of deadly force – Presumption of fear of death or serious bodily
1. An individual is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or serious bodily injury to that individual or another when using deadly force if:
a. The individual against whom the deadly force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcibly entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered and remains within a dwelling, place of work, or occupied motor home or travel trailer as defined in section 39-01-01, or if the individual had removed or was attempting to remove another against that individual’s will from the dwelling, place of work, or occupied motor home or travel trailer as defined in section 39-01-01; and
b. The individual who uses deadly force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
2. The presumption in subsection 1 may be rebutted by proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual who used the deadly force did not have a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or serious bodily injury to that individual or another.
3. The presumption in subsection 1 does not apply if the court finds that any of the following have occurred:
a. The individual against whom the deadly force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, place of work, or occupied motor home or travel trailer as defined in section 39-01-01, including an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not a temporary or permanent domestic violence protection order or any other order of no contact against that individual;
b. The individual removed or sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the individual against whom the deadly force is used;
c. The individual who uses deadly force is engaged in the commission of a crime or is using the dwelling, place of work, or occupied motor home or travel trailer as defined in section 39-01-01 to further the commission of a crime; or
d. The individual against whom the deadly force is used is a law enforcement officer who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, place of work, or occupied motor home or travel trailer as defined in section 39-01-01 in the performance of official duties and the officer provided identification, if required, in accordance with any applicable law or warrant from a court, or if the individual using force knew or reasonably should have known that the individual entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer.
12.1-05-07.2. Immunity from civil liability for justifiable use of force.
1. An individual who uses force as permitted under this chapter is immune from civil liability for the use of the force to the individual against whom force was used or to that individual’s estate unless that individual is a law enforcement officer who was acting in the performance of official duties and the officer provided identification, if required, in accordance with any applicable law or warrant from a court, or if the individual using force knew or reasonably should have known that the individual was a law enforcement officer.
2. The court shall award loss of income, reasonable attorney’s fees and, court costs and disbursements incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from civil liability as provided in subsection 1.
1. In a prosecution for any offense, it is an affirmative defense that the actor engaged in the proscribed conduct because he was compelled to do so by threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury to himself or to another. In a prosecution for an offense which does not constitute a felony, it is an affirmative defense that the actor engaged in the proscribed conduct because he was compelled to do so by force or threat of force. Compulsion within the meaning of this section exists only if the force, threat, or circumstances are such as would render a person of reasonable firmness incapable of resisting the pressure.
2. The defense defined in this section is not available to a person who, by voluntarily entering into a criminal enterprise, or otherwise, willfully placed himself in a situation in which it was foreseeable that he would be subjected to duress. The defense is also unavailable if he was negligent in placing himself in such a situation, whenever negligence suffices to establish culpability for the offense charged.
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