NORTH DAKOTA

CHILD SEX ABUSE SOLs

CURRENT CIVIL SOL

In North Dakota, the civil SOL is age 19 with a 10-year discovery rule.  The discovery rule allows victims up to 10 years after reasonable discovery of their claim for child sex abuse.

CIVIL SOL SNAPSHOT

AGE CAP

AGE 28 FOR TRAFFICKING, AGE 21 FOR OTHER CLAIMS

DISCOVERY TOLLING

10 YEARS

REVIVAL LAW

NONE

Changes Since 2002:

Age Cap: In 2002, North Dakota’s civil SOL was age 19 (age of majority, 18, plus 1 year). In 2015, it added an SOL for trafficking of age 28 (age of majority, 18, plus 10 years).

Discovery:  North Dakota first recognized that its common law discovery rule was applicable to child sex abuse cases in 1989. The 2-year SOL began to run when the plaintiff “ha[d] been apprised of facts which would place a reasonable person on notice that a potential claim exists.” In essence, the discovery rule tolls the SOL until a victim is aware of their injury, but “it does not require the plaintiff to know the full extent of the injury.” The common law discovery rule is a narrow one that makes it difficult for the victim to bring a claim years after the abuse occurred. In 2011, a 7-year discovery statute was added for gross sexual imposition and use of a minor in a sexual performance and runs from the date the victim “knew or reasonably should have known that a potential claim exists.” In 2015, the discovery statute was extended to 10 years. There are no decisions interpreting North Dakota’s discovery statute, so it remains unclear whether it is helpful to victims and the types of defendants that could be held liable pursuant to it.

Revival Law:  North Dakota has not passed a window or other SOL revival legislation since 2002.

CURRENT NORTH DAKOTA CIVIL LAW

N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 28-01-18 - Actions having two-year limitations

The following actions must be commenced within two years after the claim for relief has accrued:

1. An action for libel, slander, assault, battery, or false imprisonment.

2. An action upon a statute for a forfeiture or penalty to the state.

3. An action for the recovery of damages resulting from malpractice; provided, however, that the limitation of an action against a physician or licensed hospital will not be extended beyond six years of the act or omission of alleged malpractice by a nondiscovery thereof unless discovery was prevented by the fraudulent conduct of the physician or licensed hospital. This limitation is subject to the provisions of section 28-01-25.

4. An action for injuries done to the person of another, when death ensues from such injuries, and the claim for relief must be deemed to have accrued at the time of the death of the party injured; provided, however, that when death ensues as the result of malpractice, the claim for relief is deemed to have accrued at the time of the discovery of the malpractice. However, the limitation will not be extended beyond six years of the act or omission of alleged malpractice by a nondiscovery thereof unless discovery was prevented by the fraudulent conduct of the physician or hospital.

5. An action for recovery of damages arising under chapter 5-01, and the claim for relief is deemed to have accrued at the time of the alleged offense. This limitation does not apply to any claim for relief existing at the time of the enactment of this subsection.

N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 28-01-25.1 - Limitation on actions alleging childhood sexual abuse

Notwithstanding section 28-01-25, a claim for relief resulting from childhood sexual abuse must be commenced within ten years after the plaintiff knew or reasonably should have known that a potential claim exists resulting from alleged childhood sexual abuse. For purposes of this section, “childhood sexual abuse” means any act committed by the defendant against the plaintiff which occurred when the plaintiff was under eighteen years of age and which would have been a violation of chapter 12.1-20 or 12.1-27.2. In a claim for relief under this section, the plaintiff is not required to establish which act in a continuous series of sexual abuse acts by the defendant caused the injury.

N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 28-01-25 - Disabilities extend limitations on actions generally--Exceptions

If a person who is entitled to bring an action other than for the recovery of real property, or for a penalty or forfeiture, or against a sheriff or other officer for an escape is:

  1. Under the age of eighteen years;
  2. Insane; or
  3. Imprisoned on a criminal charge or in execution under the sentence of a criminal court for a term less than for life,

at the time the claim for relief accrues, the time of such disability is not a part of the time limited for the commencement of the action. However, the period within which the action must be brought cannot be extended more than five years by any such disability except infancy, nor can it be extended in any case longer than one year after the disability ceases. In cases alleging professional malpractice, the extension of the limitation due to infancy is limited to twelve years.

N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 12.1-41-15 - Civil Action
  1. A victim may bring a civil action against a person that commits an offense against the victim under section 12.1-41-02, 12.1-41-03, or 12.1-41-04 for compensatory damages, exemplary or punitive damages, injunctive relief, and any other appropriate relief.
  2. If a victim prevails in an action under this section, the court shall award the victim reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
  3. An action under this section must be commenced not later than ten years after the later of the date on which the victim:
  4. No longer was subject to human trafficking; or
  5. Attained eighteen years of age.
  6. Damages awarded to a victim under this section for an item must be offset by any restitution paid to the victim pursuant to section 12.1-41-09 for the same item.
  7. This section does not preclude any other remedy available to a victim under federal law or law of this state other than this chapter.
Case law

CURRENT CRIMINAL SOL

In North Dakota, the criminal SOL is for sexual abuse capped at age 36 (age of majority, 15, plus 21 years) when a victim is under age 15, or three years after the offense is reported to law enforcement. The criminal SOL for human trafficking is age 22 when a victim is under age 15 at the time of their abuse. However, if the SOL has expired but DNA evidence established the identity of the perpetrator, the victim can bring cause of action in 3 years.

CRIMINAL SOL SNAPSHOT

OTHER FELONIES

SEX ABUSE, VICTIM UNDER AGE 15

Age 36, or 3 years after report N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 29-04-03.1(1)

FELONY HUMAN TRAFFICKING, VICTIM UNDER AGE 15

Age 22 N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 29-04-03.2

FELONY HUMAN TRAFFICKING, VICTIM AGE 15 OR OLDER

7 years from offense N.D. Cent. Code Ann. §§ 29-04-02.1

OTHER FELONIES

3 years from offense, or age 18 when victim under age 15 N.D. Cent. Code Ann. §§ 29-04-02; 29-04-03.2

MISDEMEANORS

2 years from offense N.D. Cent. Code Ann. §, 29-04-03

DNA SNAPSHOT

 

SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS

3 years from identification N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 29-04-03.1(2)

Changes Since 2002:

The criminal SOL in 2002 for felony and misdemeanor sexual abuse of minors was 7 years from the offense or 3 years after reporting to law enforcement, whichever was more recent.  A tolling rule for victims under age 15 stopped the 7-year SOL from running until they were 15 years-old, effectively extending the SOL to age 22.  Other felony sex offenses had an SOL of 3 years and misdemeanors had an SOL of 2 years from the offense. For victims under age 15 the SOL did not start running until they reached age 15.  In 2015, North Dakota extended the criminal SOL for sexual abuse of minors to 10 years from the offense or 3 years after reporting.  It also added a 3-year discovery rule, which extended the SOL for sexual abuse of minors to 3 years after the offense is reported or DNA identifies the perpetrator. In 2017, it added identification via fingerprinting too.  Like the previous SOL, the 10-year SOL was tolled for victims under age 15 so that prosecution was permitted until a victim reaches age 25 (age of tolling, 15, plus 10 years).  In 2015 North Dakota extended the SOL for prosecution of felony human trafficking to 7 years from the offense if a victim is age 15, 16 or 17 and age 22 (age of tolling, 15, plus 7 years) if victim is under age 15.  In 2019, North Dakota extended the criminal SOL again.  Now, the SOL for sexual abuse of minors under age 15 is 21 years from the offense or 3 years after it is reported to law enforcement or DNA or fingerprint evidence establishes the identity of the perpetrator, even if the prior SOLs expired, whichever is later.  Under the tolling rule for sexual abuse of minors under age 15, prosecution is permitted until a victim reaches age 36 (age of tolling, 15, plus 21 years).  North Dakota is still one of only 8 states that has not eliminated the SOL for any felony crimes.

CURRENT NORTH DAKOTA CRIMINAL LAW

N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 29-04-02 - Prosecution for felony other than murder within three years

Except as otherwise provided by law, a prosecution for any felony other than murder must be commenced within three years after its commission. Prosecution of felony offenses under chapter 12.1-23 must be commenced within the later of three years of commission of the last act that is an element of the offense, three years of discovery of the stolen property, or three years of discovery of the loss of the property or services. Nothing in this section prevents a person prosecuted for murder from being found guilty of any included offense and punished accordingly.

N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 29-04-02.1 - Prosecution for gross sexual imposition or human trafficking

Except as otherwise provided by law, a prosecution for a violation of subdivision a of subsection 1 of section 12.1-20-03 or for the crime of human trafficking must be commenced in the proper court within seven years after the commission of the offense.

N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 29-04-03 - Prosecution for misdemeanor or infraction within two years

A prosecution of a misdemeanor or infraction, except as otherwise provided by law, must be commenced within two years after its commission. Prosecution of misdemeanor offenses under chapter 12.1-23 must be commenced within the later of two years of commission of the last act that is an element of the offense, two years of discovery of the stolen property, or two years of discovery of the loss of the property or services.

N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 29-04-03.1 - Prosecution for sexual abuse of minors
  1. Except as provided in subsection 2, a prosecution for a violation of sections 12.1-20-03 through 12.1-20-08 or of section 12.1-20-11 if the victim was under eighteen years of age at the time the offense was committed must be commenced in the proper court within twenty-one years after the commission of the offense or, if the victim failed to report the offense within this limitation period, within three years after the offense was reported to law enforcement authorities.

 

  1. If, based upon evidence containing deoxyribonucleic acid or a fingerprint obtained at the time of offense, a suspect is conclusively identified by deoxyribonucleic acid testing after the time period prescribed in subsection 1 has expired, a prosecution may be commenced within three years after the suspect is conclusively identified by the deoxyribonucleic acid testing or fingerprint authentication.
N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 29-04-03.2 - Statute of limitations as to child victim

If the victim of a violation of chapter 12.1-20 or of the crime of human trafficking is under the age of fifteen, the applicable period of limitation, if any, does not begin to run until the victim has reached the age of fifteen.

Case Law

The information provided is solely for informational purposes and is not legal advice. To determine the North Dakota SOL in a particular case, contact a lawyer in the state.

Last Updated: April 21, 2021

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