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What Do You Do if You Are On Trial For a Crime in South Dakota?

Any person charged with committing a criminal offense in South Dakota is required to appear at the state’s circuit court. Arrestees are typically advised to hire a lawyer. Those that cannot afford one are assigned an attorney from the public defender’s office. After the prosecutor files the charges, the representative of the accused will be expected to respond on behalf of the defendant. Both parties then work to gather evidence in order to make their case at the hearing. However, they can reach an agreement (a plea bargain) and opt to settle the matter out of court.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What Percentage of Criminal Cases Go to Trial in South Dakota?

The unified judicial system of South Dakota releases an annual report of all court activities in the state. According to the 2019 statistical report, the state’s circuit courts recorded a total of 12,527 felony and extradited case filings. Also, 20,827 class 1 misdemeanor cases were filed and 104,426 class 2 misdemeanor filings for the same year. While about 43% of criminal cases are pending trial, only about 6% reach trial.

When Does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?

As stated in Section 7 of the South Dakota Codified Laws, all accused persons are entitled to a statutory hearing and to have an unbiased jury in a speedy public trial. This is expected to occur in the county or area where the crime is claimed to have been committed. That right is also backed up by the Federal law (Sixth Amendment), which states that accused individuals are entitled to due process in a trial court.

What Are the Stages of a Criminal Trial in South Dakota?

Criminal trial procedures in South Dakota occur in seven stages. However, these stages may vary slightly depending on the case. Typically, trial proceedings follow the order below:

  • Selection of the jury: The court clerk is responsible for drawing out the names of the individuals who have been summoned to be jurors.
  • Reading the Indictment: At the beginning of the court proceeding, either the prosecutor or the clerk will read out the charge against the accused.
  • Prosecutor’s opening statement: Here, the plaintiff will be allowed to present the evidence to support the charges.
  • The defendant’s opening statement: The accused or the representative makes their case to dispel the prosecutor’s charges.
  • Further evidence and witnesses: Both parties are permitted to present rebutting evidence and present witnesses.
  • Instruction from Judge: Here, the judge declares the appropriate laws and state the issues. However, the judge is not to instruct the jurors regarding any fact.
  • Closing Arguments: After the court has concluded with the evidence, both parties will be allowed to make their last arguments.

How Long Does It Take For a Case to Go to Trial in South Dakota?

As stated in 23A–44–5.1 of the constitution, any person convicted, informed, or charged with any crime in South Dakota must be tried in court within 180 days. These 180 days begin to count from the day the defendant first appears before the judicial officer regarding an accusation or allegation. In cases of a mistrial, the trial date begins to count when the order is filed for a new trial.

What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in South Dakota?

When the prosecutor and defendant cannot agree on a plea bargain, the case goes to trial. After the impaneled jury has been sworn in, the plaintiff and the respondent will present evidence to support their case. Here, the prosecution will also be permitted to make claims, present witnesses, and the defense will be allowed to make counterclaims and cross-examine the witnesses.

After the testimonies, the defense attorney shall open their arguments, and the defendant will do the same. Afterward, the prosecutor will be allowed to conclude the complaint to the jury.

After the presiding judge has given the instructions, the jurors must come to a unanimous verdict concerning the defendant. Essentially, in South Dakota circuit courts, if a criminal case is tried without a jury, the judge will decide the case. Usually, the judge gives the judgment at the hearing, but sometimes the judge will require more time to reach a verdict.

Can You Be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in South Dakota?

No. Persons in South Dakota cannot be made to face trial twice for the same offense—this is according to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S constitution, also known as the double jeopardy clause. This law prevents persons that have been convicted or acquitted from being indicted again for that same offense. However, such persons may be made to face trial in two separate states if both states consider the act a breach of their laws.

How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in South Dakota?

To access South Dakota’s ongoing court records, interested persons will have to reach out to the courthouse clerk where the case is being heard. The same applies to concluded criminal court records that might not be available online. Criminal court dockets are produced and maintained by different law enforcement organizations within the state. Interested persons may also lookup criminal court cases on third-party websites like SouthdakotaCourtrecords.Us.

How to Access Electronic Court Records in South Dakota

The South Dakota UJS keeps records of criminal cases online in the state. The electronic court records available on the site are unsealed case documents dating from 1989 to the present. To request criminal documents, interested persons must pay a $20 fee for statewide searches and county-specific records. A $5 fee applies if the requester certifies that the search is in conjunction with a pending federal or state case.

How Do I Remove Public Court Records in South Dakota?

South Dakota state statutes provide for the expungement of criminal records depending on the offender’s age when the crime was committed and the gravity of the crime. Below are examples of documents that cannot be expunged:

  • A class 1 or 2 felony conviction
  • Any crime that involves a minor
  • Any offense of moral turpitude
  • Felony sexual assaults

To expunge criminal records, interested and eligible parties must petition the appropriate district attorneys. The interested party must prepare an “order of expungement” for a judge to sign. If the judge grants the expungement order, they must serve that order to all the organizations who hold documents related to the conviction or arrest.