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South Dakota Court Records

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What are South Dakota Criminal Court Records?

South Dakota criminal court records are compiled reports and documents of criminal case proceedings created and/or maintained by South Dakota state courts. They include dockets, court transcripts photos, multimedia recordings, and forensic evidence. In South Dakota, court clerks are the custodians of court records.

What are Criminal Court Records?

The contents of criminal court records vary from case to case, depending on the nature of the crime, as well as their progressions and outcomes. In South Dakota, a typical criminal court record may include the following documents:

  • Arrest warrant
  • Affidavits
  • Filed complaints and court summons
  • Notice of the legal rights of the offender
  • Orders for supervised restriction of defendant
  • Final court sentence
  • Evaluation report of the offender’s competency to stand trial
  • Receipts for payment of court processes and services.
  • Inmate records or incarceration information (if relevant to the case)

Understanding the South Dakota Criminal Court Structure

South Dakota courts are categorized on the basis of their judicial authorities over felonies, misdemeanors and infractions. Trial courts handle criminal cases in South Dakota. These include Circuit and Magistrate Courts. Appeals of criminal cases goes to the South Dakota Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the highest state court and responsible for supervising the conducts of lower courts, establishing court rules, and administering disciplinary actions in addition to hearing appeal cases from lower courts.

The South Dakota Circuit Courts are the state’s trial courts of general jurisdiction and handle most criminal proceedings. South Dakota’s 66 counties are divided into seven judicial circuits administered by seven Presiding Judges and 36 Circuit Court Judges. The Circuits Courts exercise exclusive jurisdiction over felony cases and appeal cases from Magistrate Courts

In South Dakota, Magistrate Courts handle minor criminal cases such as misdemeanors. Each is headed by a magistrate judge or a clerk magistrate. This often determines the jurisdiction of the court. Clerk magistrates are specially trained non-attorneys that are appointed by the presiding circuit judge. A magistrate judge can hear cases involving preliminary hearings for criminal prosecutions and misdemeanors.

On the other hand, clerk magistrates can only the following aspects of criminal cases:

  • Receive court depositions
  • Issue arrest and search warrants
  • Conduct certain preliminary hearings of case and set bails
  • Appoint counsel and receive pleas for class 2 misdemeanors (cases with sentences of up to 3 months in jail and /or fine of $250)
  • Conduct trials for petty offenses

There are fifteen full-time and 1 part-time magistrate judges that preside over the 7 judicial circuits of the 66 counties of South Dakota.

How to obtain South Dakota Criminal Court records

South Dakota criminal court records, unless confidential or sealed, are accessible to the members of the public. All requests are processed upon the submission of a request form, either online or at the local courthouse where the case was tried.

South Dakota Circuit Court Clerks also accept email requests for court records. Members of the public can submit their requests to the email addresses of the courts where the cases of interest were heard. Alternatively, they can also submit requests by regular mail. To submit a mail request, send a completed request form along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the court clerk’s office. It is also possible to request criminal court records in person in South Dakota. To do so, visit the clerk’s office at the courthouse address.

Note that South Dakota Circuit Court Clerk’s Offices charge nominal fees for copies of court records. Use the court directory provided to find the contact address and telephone number of the clerk’s office for the court where the criminal case was heard. Call ahead to enquire about the availability of the court records of interest, search and copy fees, and the office’s business hours.

Certain portions of the criminal records may be unavailable to the general public except the parties involved in the case. Such redacted/confidential records include social security numbers, arrest warrants, and names of minors/victims of the violence. These details are usually redacted from criminal court records in order to protect the identities of the persons involved.

Additionally, publicly available records may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:

  • The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
  • The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name

Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.

How to Find South Dakota Criminal Court Records Online

Criminal court records in South Dakota are available on the Public Access Record Search (PARS) portal. The public can access criminal court dockets for a fee using this online resource. Fee is payable with a credit card. Access could be gained either by creating a user account (in which case the address of the user must match the details of the credit card), or a guest access. Accessing this portal with a registered user account produces more detailed results.

Note that South Dakota does not put criminal court records for cases heard prior to 1989 online. These records are not digitized and only accessible in person. To access such records, visit the Office of the Clerk at the courthouse where the case was tried.

Are all South Dakota Criminal Court Records Public?

No. While most criminal court records are publicly available in South Dakota, certain records are exempted. Such confidential records can be made inaccessible by a state statute or court order to protect the interests of the persons involved. Records commonly sealed in criminal case files include:

  • Mental health reports,
  • Addiction records
  • Health records
  • Identities of minors

In South Dakota, the records of criminal cases involving juveniles are usually sealed.

Can I Access Sealed Criminal Court Records?

Sealed criminal court records are not accessible to the public unless by the parties involved and their legal representatives. Such persons can only access the records at the courthouse and with a valid means of identification. A member of the public not party to a case can only access its sealed records by submitting a valid court order granting access to the confidential records.

Are Criminal Records included in Criminal Court Records in South Dakota?

No. Criminal records provide an individual’s criminal history while a criminal court record details the prosecution and outcome of a crime in a court of law. The Identification Department of the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), an arm of the South Dakota Office of the Attorney General, maintains and provides criminal records for the state. It offers both state and federal fingerprint-based background checks for South Dakota residents. While citizens can request state-only criminal histories from the DCI, requests for state and federal criminal records(containing information regarding federal crimes) are only accepted from employers, municipalities, and approved agencies.

To request a South Dakota criminal record, call the Identification Department of the DCI at (605) 773–3331 to obtain a fingerprint kit. This is provided free and includes a fingerprint card. Complete the fingerprint card with the details of the subject of the criminal history check as well as the authorization and release form on the back of the card. Ensure the completed card includes a full set of the subject’s rolled fingerprints. Visit a South Dakota police department or Sheriff’s office to print the subject’s fingerprints on the card. Send this along with a check or money order for $26.75 to the DCI address on the card.

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South Dakota Criminal Court Records