In South Dakota, a person commits theft by taking or exercising the authorized control over another's property with the intent to deprive the owner of their property. The law enumerates several other ways in which someone can commit a type of theft:
While many people associate theft with stealing cars or money, theft encompasses a broad range of conduct and not just tangible property. For instance, it's theft to unlawfully connect to another's TV cable line, dine and dash, or accept and keep a misdelivered package without trying to find its owner. Here are the definitions of property and services that can be stolen.
Property and services. Property includes money, personal property (tangible or intangible), real property (land), vehicles, admission tickets, contract rights, captured or domestic animals, food or beverages, and generally anything of value. Services refer to things like labor, professional advice, public utilities, hospitality accommodations, admissions to exhibits, and the use of rental property.
Intent to deprive. It doesn't matter if the thief intends to keep the property, sell it, give it away, or abandon it. Rather, the intent focuses on the owner's loss. A person deprives an owner of their property by taking, withholding, or disposing of the property, thereby making it unlikely the owner will receive it.
(S.D. Codified Laws §§ 22-1-2, 22-30A-1 to -10 (2021).)
Like many other states, South Dakota classifies its theft offenses according to the value of the property taken—and in some circumstances, by the type of property involved. Let's take a closer look at each level of theft under South Dakota law.
The theft of property or services worth $401 to $1,000 constitutes petty theft in the first degree, a class 1 misdemeanor. A guilty party faces up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Grand theft can range from a class 3 to a class 6 felony.
Class 6 felony. Starting with the lowest offense level, a class 6 felony carries up to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine. A person commits this offense level when:
Class 5 felony. Grand theft constitutes a class 5 felony when the stolen property or services is worth $2,501 to $5,000. Such an offense subjects the offender to up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Class 4 felony. If the property or services involved has a value of $5,001 to $100,000, it's a class 4 felony. Here, the defendant faces up to ten years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Class 3 felony. Finally, a class 3 grand theft felony deals with stolen property or services worth $100,001 to $500,000. A conviction carries up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $30,000.
Aggravated grand theft involves stolen property or services with a value of more than $500,000. A conviction for this class 2 felony subjects the offender to up to 25 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
South Dakota law authorizes harsh penalties for repeat felony offenders. If the felony theft is the offender's second or third felony conviction, they can face punishment that is one level higher than for the current offense (for instance, a class 5 felony would move up to a class 4). If an offender has three or more felony convictions, the sentence for the current offense includes enhancement by two levels. And, if the offender has three or more felony convictions and at least one is for a violent offense, the punishment for the current felony can go up to a life sentence.
(S.D. Codified Laws §§ 22-7-7, -8; 22-30A-17 to -17.3; 22-6-1, -2 (2021).)
Like many states, South Dakota's shoplifting laws allow for both criminal and civil penalties.
A person commits shoplifting by unlawfully taking goods or merchandise from a retail establishment without the owner or seller's consent and without the intent to pay the sales price for them. The penalties for retail theft mirror those of other theft and are based on the value of the stolen items (see above).
It's fairly easy to cross the threshold from misdemeanor to felony shoplifting. For instance, theft of a brand new iPhone valued at more than $1,000 can mean a felony conviction, prison time, and thousands of dollars in fines.
In addition to criminal penalties, a person who commits shoplifting (or the parent or legal guardian of a minor who commits shoplifting) is civilly liable to the store owner or merchandise seller for the following damages:
(S.D. Codified Laws §§ 22-6-1, -2; 22-30A-19.1, -19.2 (2021).)
If you've been charged with theft, embezzlement, fraud, shoplifting, or a related offense, contact a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the complex criminal justice system and thoroughly review every aspect of your particular circumstances.