South Dakota Aggravated Assault and Battery

In South Dakota, a person commits the crime of aggravated assault (a felony) by causing or attempting to cause serious injury to another person, causing injury with a dangerous weapon, or putting another person in fear of serious injury. It is also a felony in South Dakota to commit aggravated battery (cause serious injury) to an unborn child or an infant, to assault a law enforcement or correctional officer, or to commit simple assault if you have two prior convictions for certain assault crimes. Finally, it is also a felony in South Dakota to intentionally expose another person to HIV.

Assaults and batteries that cause, attempt to cause, or make the victim fear mere bodily injury are misdemeanors. For more information on these crimes, see South Dakota Assault and Battery Laws.

The Defendant's State of Mind

Before a defendant can be convicted of a felony assault crime in South Dakota, the defendant must act intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. Knowingly is acting with an understanding of and awareness of the consequences of your actions. Recklessness is consciously disregarding the risk that your conduct could cause injury to another. (S.D. Codified Laws § 22-1-2.)

For example, firing a gun into the air in an inhabited area would be knowing if the defendant knew that other people were sitting outside, but it would be reckless if the defendant merely disregarded the risk to others.

Aggravated Assault

The crime of aggravated assault is committed by:

  • causing or attempting to cause serious bodily injury under circumstances that show an extreme indifference to the value of human life
  • causing serious bodily injury with the intent to cause bodily injury
  • knowingly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury with a dangerous weapon
  • attempting to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily harm by menacing the person with a dangerous weapon, or
  • attempting to put another in fear of death or imminent serious bodily harm by strangulation or suffocation.

(S.D. Codified Laws § 22-18-1.1.)

Serious bodily injury is a significant injury that creates a fear of danger to life, health, and limb. (S.D. Codified Laws § 22-1-2.) Multiple knife wounds to the chest and injuries that require emergency surgery would likely be considered serious bodily injuries.

Generally, circumstances that show an extreme indifference to the value of human life can vary. Examples might include causing multiple serious injuries, or attacking a victim and leaving so that the victim has no way to call for help.

Under South Dakota’s laws, a dangerous weapon is any firearm, knife, or other object (animate or inanimate) designed to inflict or likely to inflict death or serious bodily injury. (S.D. Codified Laws § 22-1-2.) For example, a gun is a dangerous weapon, but so is a heavy rock if used to seriously hurt someone.

Aggravated Battery

While assault can include the attempted infliction of injury or fear, battery is limited to the actual infliction of injury.

Aggravated battery of an infant

In South Dakota, the crime of aggravated battery of an infant (a child under three years old) is committed by:

  • intentionally or recklessly causing serious bodily injury
  • by hitting or shaking the infant, and
  • causing bleeding, swelling, or damage to the child’s brain.

(S.D. Codified Laws § 22-18-1.4.)

Aggravated battery of an unborn child

The crime of aggravated criminal battery of an unborn child is committed by:

  • assaulting a pregnant woman, and
  • inflicting serious bodily injury on an unborn child, who is subsequently born alive.

(S.D. Codified Laws § 22-18-1.3.)

Assaults Against Law Enforcement Officers or By Inmates

Simple or aggravated assault is punished more severely when the victim engaged in official duties and is:

  • a law enforcement officer
  • a correctional officer, employee, or contractor, or
  • a state government officer or employee.

(S.D. Codified Laws § 22-18-1.05.)

Inmate causing contact with bodily fluids

In South Dakota, it is also a crime for any inmate (a person convicted or incarcerated and under the control of the Department of Corrections, any juvenile in a detention or correctional facility, or a person confined in jail) to intentionally throw, spit, or otherwise cause any bodily fluid or human waste to come into contact with any correctional officer, visitor, or other person authorized to be on the premises.

(S.D. Codified Laws § § 22-18-26, 22-18-29, 22-18-29.1.)

Criminal Exposure to HIV

The crime of criminal exposure to HIV is committed by intentionally exposing another person to HIV through sexual contact, contaminated needles, donating infected blood or sperm or body tissue, or throwing or otherwise causing the victim to come into contact with infected blood or bodily fluids

Actual transmission of HIV is not necessary, but the defendant must be aware of the defendant’s HIV infection for a crime to be committed. However, it is a defense to the charge if the victim was aware of the defendant’s HIV infection and aware that the victim could be infected with HIV, but nonetheless consented to the activity that caused HIV transmission.

(S.D. Codified Laws § § 22-18-31, 22-18-32, 22-18-33, 22-18-34.)

Punishment

The following crimes are Class 3 felonies, punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $30,000:

  • aggravated assault
  • aggravated battery of an unborn child, and
  • criminal exposure to HIV.

Aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer is a Class 2 felony, punishable by up to 25 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000.

Aggravated battery of an infant is also a Class 2 felony. Second and subsequent convictions for aggravated battery of an infant are Class 1 felonies, punishable by up to 50 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000.

Simple assault against a law enforcement officer and an inmate causing contact with bodily fluids are Class 6 felonies, punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $4,000.

(S.D. Codified Laws § § 22-6-1, 22-18-1.05, 22-18-1.1, 22-18-1.3, 22-18-1.4, 22-18-26, 22-18-29.1, 22-18-30, 22-18-31.)

Simple assault with prior convictions

If a defendant has two or more prior convictions (in South Dakota or another state) within the past ten years for simple assault, aggravated assault, or inmate causing contact with bodily fluids, and is found guilty of simple assault in South Dakota, it is a Class 6 felony.

(S.D. Codified Laws § 22-18-1.)

Getting Legal Advice and Representation

A conviction with aggravated assault or battery could result in a significant prison sentence, a large fine, and a very serious criminal record. If you are charged with aggravated assault in South Dakota, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will be able to tell you how your case is likely to be treated in court, depending on the facts and the assigned judge and prosecutor. With an attorney’s help, you may be able to get a reduced sentence, get the charges dismissed, plea bargain, or obtain a not guilty verdict.

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