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Article I Declaration of Rights

Section 1. All individuals are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation; pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness; and to keep and bear arms for the defense of their person, family, property, and the state, and for lawful hunting, recreational, and other lawful purposes, which shall not be infringed.

Section 2. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people, and they have a right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require.

Section 3. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference shall be forever guaranteed in this state, and no person shall be rendered incompetent to be a witness or juror on account of his opinion on matters of religious belief; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this state.

Section 4. Every man may freely write, speak and publish his opinions on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that privilege. In all civil and criminal trials for libel the truth may be given in evidence, and shall be a sufficient defense when the matter is published with good motives and for justifiable ends; and the jury shall have the same power of giving a general verdict as in other cases; and in all indictments or informations for libels the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts under the direction of the court as in other cases.

Section 5. The citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together for the common good, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for the redress of grievances, or for other proper purposes, by petition, address or remonstrance.

Section 6. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime, shall ever be tolerated in this state.

Section 7. Every citizen of this state shall be free to obtain employment wherever possible, and any person, corporation, or agent thereof, maliciously interfering or hindering in any way, any citizen from obtaining or enjoying employment already obtained, from any other corporation or person, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor.

Section 8. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons and things to be seized.

Section 9. All courts shall be open, and every man for any injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation shall have remedy by due process of law, and right and justice administered without sale, denial or delay. Suits may be brought against the state in such manner, in such courts, and in such cases, as the legislative assembly may, by law, direct.

Section 10. Until otherwise provided by law, no person shall, for a felony, be proceeded against criminally, otherwise than by indictment, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger. In all other cases, offenses shall be prosecuted criminally by indictment or information. The legislative assembly may change, regulate or abolish the grand jury system.

Section 11. All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offenses when the proof is evident or the presumption great. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor shall cruel or unusual punishments be inflicted. Witnesses shall not be unreasonably detained, nor be confined in any room where criminals are actually imprisoned.

Section 12. In criminal prosecutions in any court whatever, the party accused shall have the right to a speedy and public trial; to have the process of the court to compel the attendance of witnesses in his behalf; and to appear and defend in person and with counsel. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense, nor be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.

Section 13. The right of trial by jury shall be secured to all, and remain inviolate. A person accused of a crime for which he may be confined for a period of more than one year has the right of trial by a jury of twelve. The legislative assembly may determine the size of the jury for all other cases, provided that the jury consists of at least six members. All verdicts must be unanimous.

Section 14. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless, when in case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require.

Section 15. No person shall be imprisoned for debt unless upon refusal to deliver up his estate for the benefit of his creditors, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law; or in cases of tort; or where there is strong presumption of fraud.

Section 16. Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation having been first made to, or paid into court for the owner, unless the owner chooses to accept annual payments as may be provided for by law. No right of way shall be appropriated to the use of any corporation until full compensation therefor be first made in money or ascertained and paid into court for the owner, unless the owner chooses annual payments as may be provided by law, irrespective of any benefit from any improvement proposed by such corporation. Compensation shall be ascertained by a jury, unless a jury be waived. When the state or any of its departments, agencies or political subdivisions seeks to acquire right of way, it may take possession upon making an offer to purchase and by depositing the amount of such offer with the clerk of the district court of the county wherein the right of way is located. The clerk shall immediately notify the owner of such deposit. The owner may thereupon appeal to the court in the manner provided by law, and may have a jury trial, unless a jury be waived, to determine the damages, which damages the owner may choose to accept in annual payments as may be provided for by law. Annual payments shall not be subject to escalator clauses but may be supplemented by interest earned.

For purposes of this section, a public use or a public purpose does not include public benefits of economic development, including an increase in tax base, tax revenues, employment, or general economic health. Private property shall not be taken for the use of, or ownership by, any private individual or entity, unless that property is necessary for conducting a common carrier or utility business.

Section 17. Treason against the state shall consist only in levying war against it, adhering to its enemies or giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the evidence of two witnesses to the same overt act, or confession in open court.

Section 18. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligations of contracts shall ever be passed.

Section 19. The military shall be subordinate to the civil power. No standing army shall be maintained by this state in time of peace, and no soldiers shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war, except in the manner prescribed by law.

Section 20. To guard against transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate.

Section 21. No special privileges or immunities shall ever be granted which may not be altered, revoked or repealed by the legislative assembly; nor shall any citizen or class of citizens be granted privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not be granted to all citizens.

Section 22. All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation.

Section 23. The state of North Dakota is an inseparable part of the American union and the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land.

Section 24. The provisions of this constitution are mandatory and prohibitory unless, by express words, they are declared to be otherwise.

Section 25.

  1. To preserve and protect the right of crime victims to justice, to ensure crime victims a meaningful role throughout the criminal and juvenile justice systems, and to ensure that crime victims' rights and interests are respected and protected by law in a manner no less vigorous than the protections afforded to criminal defendants and delinquent children, all victims shall be entitled to the following rights, beginning at the time of their victimization
    1. The right to be treated with fairness and respect for the victim's dignity.
    2. The right to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse.
    3. The right to be reasonably protected from the accused and any person acting on behalf of the accused.
    4. The right to have the safety and welfare of the victim and the victim's family considered when setting bail or making release decisions.
    5. The right to prevent the disclosure of information or records that could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim's family, or which could disclose confidential or privileged information about the victim, and to be notified of any request for such information or records.
    6. The right to privacy, which includes the right to refuse an interview, deposition, or other discovery request made by the defendant, the defendant's attorney, or any person acting on behalf of the defendant, and to set reasonable conditions on the conduct of any such interaction to which the victim consents. Nothing in this section shall abrogate a defendant's sixth amendment rights under the Constitution of the United States nor diminish the state's disclosure obligations to a defendant.
    7. The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of, and to be present at, all proceedings involving the criminal or delinquent conduct, including release, plea, sentencing, adjudication, and disposition, and any proceeding during which a right of the victim is implicated.
    8. The right to be promptly notified of any release or escape of the accused.
    9. The right to be heard in any proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, adjudication, disposition, or parole, and any proceeding during which a right of the victim is implicated.
    10. The right, upon request, to confer with the attorney for the government.
    11. The right to provide information regarding the impact of the offender's conduct on the victim and the victim's family to the individual responsible for conducting any presentence or disposition investigation or compiling any presentence investigation report or recommendation regarding, and to have any such information considered in any sentencing or disposition recommendations.
    12. The right, upon request, to receive a copy of any report or record relevant to the exercise of a victim's right, except for those portions made confidential by law or unless a court determines disclosure would substantially interfere with the investigation of a case, and to receive a copy of any presentence report or plan of disposition when available to the defendant or delinquent child.
    13. The right, upon request, to the prompt return of the victim's property when no longer needed as evidence in the case.
    14. The right to full and timely restitution in every case and from each offender for all losses suffered by the victim as a result of the criminal or delinquent conduct. All monies and property collected from any person who has been ordered to make restitution shall be first applied to the restitution owed to the victim before paying any amounts owed to the government.
    15. The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay, and to a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings.
    16. The right, upon request, to be informed of the conviction, adjudication, sentence, disposition, place, and time of incarceration, detention, or other disposition of the offender, any scheduled release date of the offender, and the release of or the escape by the offender from custody or commitment.
    17. The right, upon request, to be informed in a timely manner of all post-judgment processes and procedures, to participate in such processes and procedures, to provide information to the release authority to be considered before any release decision is made, and to be notified of any release decision regarding the offender. The parole authority shall extend the right to be heard to any person harmed by the offender.
    18. The right, upon request, to be informed in a timely manner of any pardon, commutation, reprieve, or expungement procedures, to provide information to the governor, the court, any pardon board, and other authority in these procedures, and to have that information considered before a decision is made, and to be notified of such decision in advance of any release of the offender.
    19. The right to be informed of these rights, and to be informed that victims can seek the advice of an attorney with respect to their rights. This information shall be made available to the general public and provided to all crime victims in what is referred to as a Marsy's card.
  2. The victim, the retained attorney of the victim, a lawful representative of the victim, or the attorney for the government upon request of the victim may assert and seek enforcement of the rights enumerated in this section and any other right afforded to a victim by law in any trial or appellate court, or before any other authority with jurisdiction over the case, as a matter of right. The court or other authority with jurisdiction shall act promptly on such a request, ensuring that no right is deprived without due process of law, and affording a remedy by due course of law for the violation of any right. The reasons for any decision regarding disposition of a victim's right shall be clearly stated on the record.
  3. The granting of these rights to victims shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights possessed by victims. All provisions of this section apply throughout criminal and juvenile justice processes and are self-enabling. This section does not create any cause of action for damages against the state, any political subdivision of the state, any officer, employee, or agent of the state or of any of its political subdivisions, or any officer or employee of the court.
  4. As used in this section, a "victim" is a person who suffers direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm as a result of the commission or attempted commission of a crime or delinquent act or against whom the crime or delinquent act is committed. If a victim is deceased, incompetent, incapacitated, or a minor, the victim's spouse, parent, grandparent, child, sibling, grandchild, or guardian, and any person with a relationship to the victim that is substantially similar to a listed relationship, may also exercise these rights. The term "victim" does not include the accused or a person whom the court finds would not act in the best interests of a deceased, incompetent, minor, or incapacitated victim.