While the Constitution of North Dakota considers bearing arms to be an inalienable right, the law does not allow everyone to possess firearms or to use firearms in any manner they wish. In fact, the Constitution specifies you have a right to have firearms for “lawful purposes,” and other state laws distinguish when firearm ownership or use is unlawful. Even though you may not think gun violations are a big deal, there can be serious penalties attached to firearms convictions.
Wrongful Possession of Firearms
Both federal law and North Dakota law prohibits certain individuals from possessing firearms. Some people who have these restrictions include:
- People convicted of certain felony offenses
- People convicted of certain drug-related offenses
- People convicted of domestic violence offenses (even if they are misdemeanors)
- People convicted of certain crimes using a firearm for violence or intimidation
- People who have protection orders against them
- People whom the court has adjudicated mentally unfit to own a firearm
- Minors under age 18 if they do not have the direct supervision of an adult
If you have lost your firearm rights in North Dakota, you can be charged with the unlawful possession of a firearm. This can be either a Class C felony or Class A misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. A felony charge can mean up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and other penalties.
As of 2017, North Dakota allows the concealed carry of firearms without a license. To carry a concealed weapon, a person must qualify to own a gun, must be at least 18 years of age, and must have had a valid driver’s license or state ID for one year (and they must carry their ID with them). If a person has contact with law enforcement, they must notify the officer they have a concealed weapon.
However, you may not carry a firearm into a bar or liquor store that does not allow people under 21 on the premises. You also may not carry a weapon in schools, at athletic events, in churches (without permission of the worship leader), in a publicly-owned building (with certain exceptions, such as state parks or rest areas), gaming establishments, and other specific locations. If you have a firearm in a prohibited place, you could face Class B misdemeanor charges.
Using Firearms during a Crime
If state or federal prosecutors believe that you used a gun during the commission of a crime, they can issue additional firearm-related charges. This is common in cases involving drug trafficking or distribution, kidnapping, sexual assault, armed robbery, homicide, and more. The penalties for the unlawful use of a firearm will often enhance any sentence for the underlying crime.
Contact a Fargo Criminal Defense Law Firm for Assistance Today
While owning a gun is a right for many people in North Dakota, violating state or federal firearms laws can still get you in serious trouble. If you were arrested for a firearm-related offense, do not hesitate to call criminal defense lawyer Tatum O’Brien at the law firm of O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys. Contact our firm online or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002 (toll-free) to schedule a case evaluation.