North Dakota Bill to Alleviate “Punishment by Process” for Self Defense Passes House

Lady Justice

U.S.A. –( Ideally, the process of the judicial system would be free or cheap and painless. Unfortunately, it is expensive and painful, with long delays, expensive lawyer fees, and much uncertainty. The process of the judicial system has become a punishment in itself.

A bill which would help alleviate punishment by process in self defense cases in North Dakota, has passed the North Dakota House by 50 to 40 on January 20, 2023. The bill, HB 1213, would allow a judge to provide reinbursement of costs to people who are prosecuted by the State for self defense, and are then found not guilty. From

A rally of opposition by North Dakota’s state’s attorneys came too late for a House bill that would provide financial reimbursement to assault or murder defendants who are acquitted on self defense.

Ward County State’s Attorney Roza Larson, president of the North Dakota State’s Attorney’s Association, said the association will be working in the North Dakota Senate to defeat the bill, which passed the House 50-40 on Jan. 20.

The relevant text of the bill HB 1213, from

SECTION 1. A new section to chapter 12.1-05 of the North Dakota Century Code is created and enacted as follows:

Crime of violence – Self-defense – Reimbursement.

1.As used in this section, “crime of violence” means a violation of state law in which an individual causes death or physical bodily injury to another individual. The term includes assault and murder.

2.If an individual charged with a crime of violence is found not guilty due to the justification of self-defense, the court may order the state to reimburse the defendant for all reasonable costs incurred in defense, including loss of wages and time, attorney’s fees, and other expenses involved in the defense. The reimbursement is not an independent cause of action.

A similar bill was passed by the Washington State legislature in 1977, 45 years ago. The law was modified to add particulars in 1989 and a bit more in 1995, but the main substance remains the same.  From

(2) When a person charged with a crime listed in subsection (1) of this section is found not guilty by reason of self-defense, the state of Washington shall reimburse the defendant for all reasonable costs, including loss of time, legal fees incurred, and other expenses involved in his or her defense. This reimbursement is not an independent cause of action. To award these reasonable costs the trier of fact must find that the defendant’s claim of self-defense was sustained by a preponderance of the evidence. If the trier of fact makes a determination of self-defense, the judge shall determine the amount of the award.

The proposed North Dakota bill is weaker than the Washington State law. The Washington State law says the State of Washington “shall reimburse” the person who was found to be justified. The proposed North Dakota law only says the “court may order the state to reimburse” which leaves the reimbursement up to the judge’s discussion.

In our modern society, the process has become a significant punishment in itself. The law in Washington State, and the proposed bill HB 1213 in North Dakota, presents a partial cure for punishment by process.

This may be the start of a trend.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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Sounds good! I hope it not only passes in North Dakota, but catches fire and spreads to many other states, including mine!


South Carolina. We have one good thing already, but more is always better. As I understand it if the authorities clear you in a shooting (or other act of violence in self-defense), you are then deemed immune from civil action in that case.


I totally agree, Ope!


Here in Maryland, IF you do not like the (IE:) cut of a person’s hair, you can sue! PURE IDIOCY!


Can’t you countersue for frivolous lawsuit?

Wild Bill

Oh yes!!! A plaintiff sure can!

Wild Bill

Defendant. Apparently my brain and fingers were not in sync!


yep, same in Oklahoma and Texas.

Wild Bill

Generally across the state jurisdictions, one can sue civil after one is cleared of criminality because the burdens of carrying the plaintiff’s case is lower than the states burden for conviction.
The prosecutor must prove every element of every charge brought beyond a reasonable doubt. The plaintiff has the burden of proving the elements of his case against the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence.
Beyond a reasonable doubt is akin to 99% sure. A preponderance of the evidence is akin to 50% and just a smidge.


Who pays the bill when the Defendant is found NOT GUILTY? In most cases, the State(Tax Payers) are STUCK PAYING!
In the REAL WORLD, the person, people or organization who brought the ILLEGAL CHARGES —- MUST —- be the responsible payers for the entire costs of the LAWFULLY ACTING DEFENDANT!!


Hell yeah I wonder how many lawyers would be so quick to take a felonious case when they know it may cost them ? IT SHOULD BE LAW. lol


How I wish! If that were the law in WA ST, AG Ferguson would never get out of debt! And then if there were still Debtor’s Prison, he’d never see the light of day as a free man, which is nothing less than he deserves.


You’re right. However, after a state, county or city has to make a big payout at taxpayers expense, the legislative body of that jurisdiction will change the way they do business or the constituents will fire them for not doing their job. I keep thinking about Kyle Rittenhouse….


Should add organizations encouraging and paying for suit to list of guilty parties. After paying plaintiff’s counsel, Bloomberg should be on the hook for entire cost of defense – hopefully including reputational damage and loss-of-business.


i agree but local government and federal cases (civil or criminal) usually do not have outside group financial involvement.


Until the prosecutors face punishment for abuse of power it will continue. Check this out:
Kyle’s Law – Law of Self Defense


The bill needs to include civil suits brought by the perp’s family.


Isn’t that covered in what Laddyboy posted?


This is a technique used by the left as demonstrated not only by the North Dakota’s State Attorney’s Association, the name alone says commies, but by the Feds too. Look at what they’re trying with DJT, what they did to Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, General Flynn and the list goes on and on and on. Just like Dean says THE PROCESS IS PUNISHMENT. Our side, especially the esteemed senator from South Carolina, do everything in their power to help the bastard leftards continue this tradition by not standing firm against them and by not proposing legislative fixes. Instead, we see… Read more »


why other than to punish an innocent person would you think this was a unjust idea, states attorney? the government has unlimited taxpayer funds and time to pursue cases but citizens do not. why should the taxpayers be on the hook for the prosecution and reimbursement for frivolous, political and malicious prosecution suits? government immunity is anti-thetical to a free society. prosecutors should face serious consequences for this type of behavior such as revocation of law license


“…The proposed North Dakota law only says the “court may order the state to reimburse” which leaves the reimbursement up to the judge’s discussion.”

Shouldn’t that be the judge’s discretion?


Where would a liberal judge’s discretion fall? Certainly not with the defendant.


Go back and reread my post. I wasn’t referring to what the judge would decide (or the political leanings of the judge) but merely the wording of the law because it appears to possibly be a malapropism. I have heard of numerous laws that were worded basically “…up to the judge’s discretion.” I do not, however, ever remember hearing of one that was worded “…up to the judges discussion.”


All acquittals should result in such compensation.

Doug G.

These are a lot like what Andrew Branca has been pushing with “Kyle’s Law”. Named for Kyle Rittenhouse after his successful acquittal for self defense last year.
Except… Kyle’s Law makes it so the Prosecutors, who pursue charges in self defense cases, are to be held financially responsible personally! Not in their professional capacity, and so the fees cannot be paid by the state. This law has more teeth than a “may order… ” law. Which is good.


This a slight tangent to the discussion, but… I always imagine that states like ND, SD, WY, MT, ID… are strong RED states for 2A believers. So, it is a little dismaying that this bill only passed the House with a 50-40 margin, which I assume is along party lines. To me, that is a little too close. Five votes either way and it becomes a tied vote. Here in Nevada , we used to be a Red state, but too many Calis moved in and now our Assembly has a supermajority of Democrats, with the Senate only one vote… Read more »

Last edited 27 days ago by drderek
Yote Hunter

Sounds reasonable to a point. But, then again, ANYTHING involving lawyers is unreasonably expensive. Have you ever heard of a law that holds attorneys (judges are usually attorneys too) financially responsible when a case is overturned or ordered retried due to a “technicality” such as the jury was given erroneous instructions, or there was misconduct by an attorney? Some times these type cases costs MILLIONS to the taxpayer to be retried because a LAWYER made the error! Yet Lawyers are practically NEVER held liable for making mistakes in THEIR profession, yet are always fond of bills being passed that holds… Read more »


“The proposed North Dakota bill is weaker than the Washington State law. The Washington State law says the State of Washington “shall reimburse” the person who was found to be justified. The proposed North Dakota law only says the “court may order the state to reimburse” which leaves the reimbursement up to the judge’s discussion.”

It’s really disgusting that such a leftist state has better protection than ND. The judges, being employess of the state, will no doubt have an incentive to limit the reimbursement of these victims.

Last edited 27 days ago by Stag