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Making criminal threats of violence can result in significant penalties.

In addition to jail time and fines, an arrest or conviction for a threat of violence carries many collateral consequences that can apply even if the accused did not plan to carry out the threat.

North Dakota’s threats of violence law is quite nuanced, so if you are facing such charges, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights. 

Threats of Violence 

Chapter 12.1-17 of North Dakota’s Century Code includes offenses involving assaults, threats, coercion, and harassment. The code contains the act, mental state, and causation the government must establish to prove that a person is guilty of these offenses.

Moreover, crimes involving threats of violence are often considered wobbler offenses.

This term means the crime can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the specific facts, circumstances, and severity of the threat.


A person might be charged or found guilty of this offense if they acted with the intent to place another in fear for that person’s or another person’s safety or to cause the evacuation of a building, facility, or public transportation.

The charge also applies if the perpetrator acted with the intent to cause serious disruption or inconvenience or with reckless disregard for the risk of causing such terror, disruption, or inconvenience.

To get a conviction, the government must prove the following: 

  • The accused threatened to commit a crime of violence or act in a way that is dangerous to human life; or 
  • Falsely informs another that a situation that is dangerous to human life or the commission of a crime of violence is imminent, knowing that the information is false. 

Under ND’s criminal code, terrorizing is a class C felony.

Criminal Coercion 

A person might be guilty of criminal coercion, if, with the intent to compel another to engage in or refrain from conduct, they threaten to do any of the following: 

  • Commit a crime;
  • Accuse anyone of a crime;
  • Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person, living or deceased, to hatred, contempt, or ridicule or to impair another’s credit or business reputation; or
  • Take or withhold official action as a public servant or cause a public servant to take or withhold official action.

Criminal coercion is a class A misdemeanor in North Dakota. 


A person might be guilty of harassment if, with intent to frighten or harass another, the person does any of the following: 

  • Communicates in writing or by electronic communication a threat to inflict injury on any person, to any person’s reputation, or any property; 
  • Makes a telephone call anonymously or in offensive language; 
  • Makes repeated phone calls or electronic communications with no purpose of legitimate communication; or
  • Communicates mistruths in writing or electronically and causes mental anguish.

Generally, harassment is classified as a class A misdemeanor. 

Defenses to Threats of Violence

While some threats of violent offenses are categorized as misdemeanors, these charges are serious and can cause significant disruption to your relationships and livelihood and irreparable reputational damage.

If you are facing these charges, it’s important to consult with an experienced North Dakota criminal defense attorney. An attorney can work with you to determine the best defense.

For example, in some cases, consent may be a viable defense. However, in other cases, an attorney can develop defenses based on constitutional violations, procedural errors, or actual innocence. 

What Are Threats of Violence in North Dakota, and How Can You Defend Against Them?

If you’ve been arrested for allegedly making threats of violence, it is imperative that you reach out to a dedicated North Dakota criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

The team at the Criminal Defense Attorney & Workers Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka have decades of experience handling cases on behalf of our clients.

We understand the applicable defenses and how to leverage them to ensure we reach the best possible result in your case.

To schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer at Arechigo & Stokka today, call 651-419-5366 or 701-419-1912. You can also reach us through our online contact form

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Author Photo John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.

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