TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
DATE: September 15, 2016
RE: Rule 3, N.D.R.Crim.P., The Complaint
Attorney Tom Dickson has requested that the committee consider amendments to Rule 3 that would stop the filing of criminal complaints by private citizens. He said private citizens should not be able to file criminal charges on their own and that they can file a civil case if they have a claim against someone. His email is attached.
Attached are proposed amendments to Rule 3 that would allow only licensed peace officers and prosecutors to file complaints. The new proposed amendments are highlighted. The other amendments shown in the draft were approved at the September 2015 meeting and are part of the Annual Rules Package. They relate to swearing requirements for complaints by licensed peace officers.
Most of the criminal statutes related to complaints were superseded when Rule 3 took effect. The remaining statutes are silent on whether citizens may file complaints. Prior to Rule 3, N.D.C.C. 29-05-02, copy attached, required anyone "who has reason to believe that a crime or public offense has been committed" to make a complaint against the offender. This does not seem to have been a controversial statute: staff has been unable to find any North Dakota case law on it or its predecessor statutes, which date back to the Revised Code of 1895.