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What Information is Contained in a South Dakota Juvenile Record?

Juvenile court records are created once the juvenile offender is arrested and charged to the Court for committing an unlawful act. The record is data on the delinquency of a child, which includes;

  • The biodata of the child- the full name, Parent/ Guardian names, physical description, photograph and fingerprints (in the case of a serious misdemeanor or other criminal offenses), residential address, Etc
  • The arrest report- the name of the arresting agency, the date, and place of arrest, the alleged unlawful act, the actions that led to the arrest, warrant, Etc.
  • Department of Social Services report- the social evaluation report on the juvenile, clinical studies, Etc.
  • Legal proceedings record- the charges against the juvenile, court appearances, date, disposition, detention period, the duration of commitment, Etc.

All the above information is confidential, as stated in S. D. Codified Law § 26–7A–114. Some part of the information may be opened to the public if the juvenile’s offense is as severe as a felony.

What Cases are Heard by South Dakota Juvenile Courts?

When a Circuit Court hears a matter that concerns a child (a person below 18 years old), the Court becomes a Juvenile Court. The juvenile Court have jurisdiction over;

  • Child In Need of Supervision (CHINS); this charge is against a child who exhibits truancy, who is in the habit of running away from home or school, takes alcohol, and is generally out of parental or Guardian control. Stated, CHINS implies an offense that is not considered an offense against the law if committed by an adult.
  • Delinquency; When a person who is less than 18 years, or a person up to 10 years old commits an unlawful act, such a person is not convicted of a crime but found to be adjudicated and delinquent. Offenses like theft, assault, burglary, or other petty offenses are delinquent offenses. Simply put, delinquency is an offense that is considered a crime if committed by an adult.
  • Neglected or Abused Child; This is a case against the custodian of the child or the abuser of the child and the child who is found to be delinquent.

The major difference between the juvenile court and adult court is that; in a juvenile court, cases are tried in the best interest of the child, as stated in S. D. Codified Law § 26–7A–5, while an adult court focuses on the victims and citizens’ interest at large. Hearings in a juvenile court can be any of the following;

  • Detention Hearing to decide where the juvenile is best placed based on the unlawful act committed
  • Adjudicatory Hearing to decide whether the juvenile is guilty or innocent of the charges
  • Pre-Dispositional Social Case Study evaluates the child to determine the manner of sentencing that will best rehabilitate the child.
  • Dispositional Hearing to decide the best action in the interest of the child and the community.

For capital offenses that are considered a felony, the Court seizes to be a juvenile court, and the young offender is tried in an adult court.

Who is Eligible to View Juvenile Records in South Dakota?

The State of Dakota does not permit juvenile records disclosure to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any member public. No part of the record; name, photograph, address, or any other information regarding the prosecution of a delinquent child may be given out without a court order, given in the child’s best interest. Juvenile records are kept separately from adult criminal records. As stated in S. D. Codified Law § 26–7A–27, the exception to the non-disclosure rule includes;

  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Court Personnel
  • Department of correction or detention facility
  • Department of Social Services
  • Prospective employer, only who can obtain access to records with a court order. The parent may also release records to the military for military enlistment.
  • The Media, only with a court order which is obtainable only for a good cause
  • The Prosecutor
  • Parent or Guardian of the child
  • The Child

How to Find Juvenile Records in South Dakota

A requester can go in person or send a mail to the Court’s office clerk where the Juvenile case was heard. The requester will be given a form to fill, which must be submitted with a $20 fee to get the record. Alternatively, a requester can begin the search at the state’s unified judicial system and will need to obtain a record inquiry and search request form, which is to be filled and submitted along with a fee of $20 to the division of clerk support services. This Form can either be submitted by email or mail to the address below;

State Court Administration

500 East Capitol Avenue Pierre

South Dakota 57501–5070

Tel: 605–773–3474

Fax: 605–773–5627


Alternatively, a requester can check through the division of criminal investigation of the Attorney General’s office where the computerized criminal history is kept. To access juvenile records, a requester is expected to fill the authorization and release form. Anyone apart from the exception, as stated in S. D. codified law §§ 26–7A–27, 28, 29 will not be granted access to the record.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, 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 person resides in or was accused in.

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

Can You Lookup South Dakota Juvenile Records Online?

Yes. A person can look up South Dakota juvenile records online as long as the person has the legal right to view the record. By legal right, it means that the requester is the child, the parent or guardian, or any other person who has obtained a court order granting access to the records. Juvenile records can be found on the state’s unified judicial system or on the computerized criminal history kept by the attorney general’s office, all of which can be accessed online.

However, the record’s confidentiality prevents the general public from accessing the records even though the records are online. S. D. codified Law §26–7A–38 stipulates that anyone who publishes or releases the records or uses it differently from the way the Court ordered the release will be held in contempt of Court.

Do South Dakota Juvenile Records Show up on Background Checks?

The possibility of juvenile records showing up on background checks depends on who is checking. If the person or organization checking has obtained a legal right to confidential records, then juvenile records will show up on background checks. To avoid juvenile records showing up on background checks, the parent or guardian can file a petition to seal the records on behalf of the child. Otherwise, the subject of the record can file the petition once the person is 18 years old.

When the petition to seal records is filed, the Court needs to ensure that the holder is eligible for record sealing. As stated in S. D. Codified Laws §§ 26–7A–113, 114,115, 116, a juvenile is eligible for record sealing if;

  • It is one year after the juvenile has been unconditionally released from the Court’s jurisdiction.
  • It is one year after the juvenile has been discharged from the department of corrections
  • The juvenile is not adjudicated delinquent since after the last discharge or since after the last unconditionally released from the Court’s jurisdiction
  • There are no pending charges considered a felony, sexual contact offenses, or misdemeanor that question the juvenile’s morality.
  • The juvenile’s rehabilitation is satisfactory to the Court.
  • The juvenile is a victim of human trafficking or sexual exploitation caused by the juvenile record’s existence.

Once a juvenile has fulfilled the conditional requirement for eligibility, the Court will order that the juvenile’s record be sealed. Copies of the sealing order are sent to each of the agencies or the officials holding the records. The sealing of records in South Dakota does not mean that the records are destroyed. If the need arises, the Court may permit the inspection if the child petitioned it, the child’s parent or guardian, the child’s attorney, or the social services department. Before such an order is issued, the Court must be convinced that the inspection of the records after the expungement is in the child’s best interest. Permission to inspect sealed records may also be granted if it is to be used in other proceedings in the juvenile court or if it is to be used for other criminal proceedings against the child for sentencing.

Even though sealed juvenile records do not mean that they are exterminated, it means that the juvenile records will not show up in any background check.

How Long are Juvenile Records Kept in South Dakota?

The duration of a juvenile record before automatic sealing depends on the delinquent act of such a child. S. D. Codified Laws §§ 26–7A–113, 114 & 115 define the situations that must warrant the records’ automatic sealing.

  • In the case involving an abused or neglected child, the record may be automatically sealed after the child’s adoption proceedings are completed, or once the Court ascertains that the child’s adoption is improbable.
  • In the case of CHINS, the record may be automatically sealed;
  • After the child have completed the sentencing
  • After the appeals have expired
  • At the end of the unconditional release of the child from the Court’s jurisdiction
  • In the case of a Delinquent child, the records may be automatically sealed after one year that the Department of Corrections discharges the child;
  • If the juvenile offender has no other delinquency trial after the completion of the last sentencing, or since the unconditional release from the Court’s jurisdiction
  • If the juvenile has no case of a felony, sexual contact offense, a major misdemeanor
  • If there is no pending delinquency case against the child
  • If the child satisfies the requirement of rehabilitation
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