North Dakota Aggravated Assault Laws

In North Dakota, aggravated assault, a felony, is the infliction of serious injury against another person or the infliction of any injury under circumstances that show an intention to inflict serious injury.

If you are charged with misdemeanor simple assault, please see "Simple Assault in North Dakota".

Aggravated assault can be committed in different ways:

  • willfully causing serious injury to another person
  • knowingly causing bodily injury or substantial bodily injury to another person with a weapon under circumstances that indicate an intention to inflict serious injury
  • causing bodily injury or substantial bodily injury while attempting to inflict serious injury
  • discharging a firearm or throwing a bomb, and
  • committing simple assault against particular victims.

Willful conduct is an act that’s done intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. Knowingly means acting with awareness of your conduct. When people act recklessly, they do so with a clear disregard of the consequences. For example, it would be reckless to speed down a road with blind curves.

(N.D. Code Ann. §§ 12.1-02-02, 12.1-17-01, 12.1-17-02.)

Serious Injury, Substantial Injury, and Bodily Injury

A serious injury is one that could cause death or that causes disfigurement, broken bones, unconsciousness, extreme pain, or permanent impairment; or that blocks air or blood flow to the brain or lungs. An injury that requires hospitalization is likely a serious injury.

A substantial bodily injury is a significant but temporary impairment, loss, or disfigurement.

A bodily injury is any impairment, including physical pain.

(N.D. Code Ann. §§ 12.1-01-04, 12.1-17-02.)

Simple Assault Against Particular Victims

Causing mere bodily injury or substantial bodily injury becomes aggravated assault if the victim is a:

  • police officer or correctional officer, when the assault occurs while the officer is working, and the defendant knows that the victim is an officer
  • state hospital employee, when the assault occurs while the employee is working, the defendant is institutionalized at the state hospital, and the defendant knows the victim is a state hospital employee
  • participant in a judicial proceeding, such as a judge or courtroom staff, witness, attorney, litigant, or juror
  • firefighter, emergency services provider, or emergency medical services provider, and the defendant knows this, or
  • child under the age of 12 and the assault causes substantial bodily injury.

(N.D. Code Ann. §§ 12.1-01-04, 12.1-17-01, 12.1-17-01.1.)


Aggravated assault is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. If the victim is under the age of 12, or if the victim suffers permanent impairment or loss (of an arm, for example), aggravated assault is a Class B felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

(N.D. Code Ann. §§ 12.1-17-01, 12.1-32-01.)

Minimum sentence for use of a dangerous weapon

North Dakota imposes a minimum sentence for any felony committed with a dangerous weapon or firearm. Dangerous weapons include (but are not limited to) knives and explosives. For a Class C felony committed with a firearm or dangerous weapon, the minimum sentence is two years. For a Class B felony committed with a firearm or dangerous weapon, the minimum sentence is four years.

(N.D. Code Ann. §§ 12.1-01-04, 12.1-17-02, 12.1-32-02.1.)

Getting Legal Advice and Representation

Being convicted of aggravated assault could result in lengthy jail term, as well as a significant fine, and a serious criminal record. You want the best possible outcome for your case, which could include dismissal of the charges, an acquittal after trial, or a plea bargain to lesser charges. However, a lot depends on the particular prosecutor and judge and whether they are likely to be lenient or treat your case harshly. An experienced attorney will be familiar with these people and know how to argue your case to maximize the chance of a good outcome. A good attorney can help you understand your options and prepare the strongest possible defense.

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