Can you legally shoot somebody dead for trespassing on your land in North Dakota?

This is a question that has come up quite frequently not only in North Dakota but across the country of late.  Riots, destruction of private property, and other unruly behavior have people wondering what is legal and what is not.

Maybe you saw the Yellowstone episode where John Dutton and his ranch hands made some trespassers dig their own graves before he finally decided to pardon their lives at the last second.  That's how Hollywood thinks we handle things in our neck of the woods, but there's no doubt that people do indeed take the law into their own hands sometimes (trial, jury, and verdict).

Getting back to the use of deadly force when it comes to trespassing in North Dakota.

I know I've seen some signs in North Dakota over the years hunting that come right out and say that trespassers will be shot.  Some, are not that far from Bismarck Mandan.  One of the more humous displays of deadly force against trespassing was near the town of Oakes, North Dakota.

I pulled into a yard to see to ask if I could do some pheasant hunting.  I was greeted by a sign that read "Here lies the last person to ask for permission to hunt".  The sign was on top of what looked like a freshly dug grave.

I being the stubborn German person that I am, decided to ask anyway.  So, I knocked on the door with 4 different trucks outside of the farmhouse and nobody came to the door.  I figured if you were going to go that far to say "no hunting" I was going to play along with the bit.

According to a law enforcement officer I spoke to in North Dakota, the answer is a resounding "NO", you can't shoot trespassers.

Even though North Dakota enacted the "Stand Your Ground" legislation back in 2021, it doesn't give you the right to shoot somebody who might be walking onto your property for whatever reason.  Now, if they break into your home that of course is another story.

The only exception would be if you were approached by somebody on your property in an aggressive manner that would lead you to believe you and your family were in grave danger.

According to Survival Sullivan, "In short, citizens may use force, including deadly force in North Dakota, to protect themselves from a threat against themselves or another so long as the force used is proportional to the threat."

The article goes on to say, "Citizens of North Dakota may use force, including deadly force, to prevent the threat of death or great bodily injury to themselves or someone else, or to prevent the commission of a felony crime involving violence."

So, if you see some person walking up to ask permission to hunt, for example, you do NOT have the right to shoot them.  Same with a random trespasser on your land for whatever reason.  If there is not a threat against you or somebody else that involves death or great bodily harm, you can NOT just blow them away.

Even with the passage of the "Stand Your Ground" law back in 2021. 

This isn't an episode of Yellowstone.  You can't pull a John Dutton and get away with it in North Dakota.  Not yet anyway.

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