Fighting a criminal conviction or pursuing a criminal lawsuit against an offender can be a complex process with plenty of legal obstacles to overcome. But if you go into it armed with some knowledge about the South Dakota criminal laws that are pertinent to your case, you can overcome many of the obstacles. This is especially true if you also involve an attorney in the process.
Use LawInfo’s criminal law articles to help educate yourself about South Dakota’s laws and how they affect your case. You can learn about the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, intoxicated driving charges and many other state-specific criminal law topics. You can also use LawInfo to connect with a South Dakota criminal law attorney in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen or elsewhere in the state.
If you are a victim of a crime, you may not want to wait too long to commence a legal action for recovery. Depending on the classification of the crime you are a victim of, you may have a limited amount of time before the criminal is free from legal liability. South Dakota’s criminal statute of limitations governs the time limits placed on the commencement of legal action against certain classes of crimes.
The state’s criminal statute of limitations is very straightforward. Prosecutions against Class A, Class B and Class C felonies have no time limits. Prosecutions against all other crime classes have a seven-year limit. The statute of limitations on theft and forgery offenses may begin “running” (counting down) after the discovery of the crime. A statute of limitation for an offense may be paused if the criminal does not inhabit the state and will begin running again once they re-enter the state.
First-degree felony murder is the only offense in South Dakota that may be sentenced to the death penalty (also known as capital punishment). Executions are carried out by lethal injection these days. However, as of 2017, only three people have been executed in the state since the death penalty was reinstated in 1972.
To seek the death penalty, the court and jury must find one or more aggravating factors using evidence that may upgrade first-degree murder to a capital homicide offense. These factors include:
Every state has its own system of classifying crimes which also identifies the statutory punishments for each classification. South Dakota has two main criminal offense classifications, in order of seriousness: felonies and misdemeanors.
Felonies are distinguished from misdemeanors simply by the fact that they are penalized with imprisonment in a state penitentiary. Felonies are sub-classified according to the seriousness of the offense and the severity of the penalties, which include:
Misdemeanors have fewer sub-classifications and less severe penalties. Imprisonment sentences for misdemeanors are carried out in county jails instead of state penitentiaries. There are only two misdemeanor classes: Class 1 misdemeanors receive one year of imprisonment and/or a $2,000 fine, while Class 2 misdemeanors receive 30 days of imprisonment and/or a $500 fine.
An arrest and conviction can change everything. Fines or time in jail are the immediate concern, but a conviction will also mean a criminal record that can make it harder to find a job and housing for years to come. If you are arrested or learn you are under investigation, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights, lay out your options, and help you determine the best way to proceed with mounting a defense and limiting potential penalties.