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What To Do When You are On Trial For a Crime in North Dakota?

When an individual faces criminal charges in North Dakota, the court orders the party to make a court appearance. Typically, individuals or businesses initiate civil cases. Criminal cases, on the other hand, are tried by the state. The individual charged with the crime also referred to as the defendant, has the right to an attorney. The state’s attorney, or prosecution, also has an attorney that works to prove the defendant committed the crimes listed on the charges “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of North Dakota affords the right of a jury trial to every individual on trial for criminal charges, but individuals can also waive that right.

What Percentage of Criminal Cases Go to Trial in North Dakota?

According to North Dakota state crime statistics, there were 149,078 total District Court case filings in 2019. Of those, 28,640 were criminal case filings, with 48,094 total arrests. 60% of criminal case filings in North Dakota go to trial. 2018 saw 28,494 criminal case filings. When comparing the data from 2018 and 2019, felony filings increased by 8.7%, misdemeanors decreased by 4.6%, and infractions increased by 31.5%.

When Does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?

North Dakota Century Code and the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution dictate that every criminal defendant has the right to a fair trial. The constitution states that anyone accused of committing a crime has the right to “due process,” a legal requirement to balance law and individual protection. North Dakota law also states that every defendant has the right to a jury trial during the trial process. Juries help the court decide whether to pronounce the defendant guilty or not-guilty and how to move forward with penalties and sentencing in the following stages:


What are the Stages of a Criminal Trial in North Dakota?

North Dakota criminal procedure outlines the regulations regarding criminal trials in the state. The stages of a criminal trial in North Dakota are as follows:

  • Preliminary proceedings or the preliminary hearing: including arraignment, guilty or not-guilty pleas, and plea bargains;
  • Reviewing of evidence: the jury decides if the prosecution’s evidence is strong enough to bring the case to trial;
  • Trial: either a jury trial or a non-jury trial depending on the request of the defense. The trial is where arguments take place, and all evidence is laid out for the jury and judge;
  • Sentencing: The court will pronounce the defendant either guilty or not guilty. If the verdict is guilty, sentencing and other penalties will follow.

How Long Does it take For a Case to Go to Trial in North Dakota?

Chapter 12 of the North Dakota Century Code states a defendant’s right to a speedy trial. This section states that a felony criminal trial must start no later than 90 days after the defendant or the defendant’s lawyer calls upon this right, which the individual can do within 14 days of the arraignment. If there is justification, the court does have the right to postpone the trial. The court often schedules misdemeanor trials sooner than felony trials.

What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in North Dakota?

When a criminal trial is underway in North Dakota, the state, also known as the prosecution, makes claims and presents evidence in front of a court and a jury. These claims serve to position the defendant as guilty. After this, the defense has the opportunity to make counterclaims. It is not the defense’s responsibility to prove innocence; instead, it is the prosecution’s responsibility to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. When the trial is concluded, it is up to the jury to come to a unanimous ruling of guilty or not guilty. If not-guilty, the defendant is free to go. If the defendant is found guilty, the trial moves io the judgment. The judge will then decide the penalties and sentencing for the defendant. The judge also holds the power to overturn a jury ruling.

Can you be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in North Dakota?

According to federal and state laws, the court cannot put individuals in North Dakota on trial for the same crime twice. The United States Fifth Amendment dictates that no person shall “be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” The Fifth Amendment is also known as the double jeopardy clause. There are, however, exceptions to this law. An individual could be tried twice for the same crime if a mistrial terminated the case due to a technicality. Also, if an individual was prosecuted for a state crime, the federal government has the right to charge the same individual for the same crime or crimes.

How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in North Dakota?

In North Dakota, law enforcement agencies in the jurisdiction of the crime initially create criminal records. To find arrest records, individuals can contact the law enforcement agency that issued the ticket or citation and inquire about the case. The North Dakota courts website offers a tool to search through court dockets and court calendars. For full case records, individuals can use the North Dakota Courts criminal case records search engine to search using one of the following:

  • Case number
  • Defendant name
  • Citation number
  • Attorney name
  • Attorney bar number
  • Date filed

How to Access Electronic Court Records in North Dakota

As mentioned above, individuals can visit the North Dakota Courts criminal case records search engine’s website to search for court records in the state. Parties can use case numbers, the defendant’s name, citation number, name or bar number of the attorney, or the date that the case was filed. This platform allows access to any public records in the state.

How Do I Remove Public Court Records in North Dakota?

Removing or sealing a public court record is possible by petitioning the court if the party is eligible. Eligibility requirements differ depending on the charges against an individual. Typically, if the court finds someone guilty for a non-violent felony or misdemeanor, that individual can petition. A petition for sealing a record must include the individual’s full name, address of residence, the justification for why the court should seal the record, and a complete outline of its criminal history. Parties must also fill out a proposed order that grants the sealing and submit both documents to the prosecution.

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