South Dakota has nine classes of felony offenses. The three most serious classes are A, B, and C, while the six remaining classes are numbered one through six. Class A felonies represent the most serious criminal offenses in the state, while Class 6 felonies are the least serious.
For information about misdemeanors, see South Dakota Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Sentence Ranges for Each Felony Level
Unless otherwise addressed by a specific criminal statute, each of South Dakota's nine felony offenses classes have a maximum penalty associated with them. These maximums represent the highest penalty a court can impose, though the highest possible sentences are not necessarily imposed in all cases.
- Class A. Death or life imprisonment with no possibility of a lighter sentence, and up to $50,000 in fines.
- Class B. Life imprisonment with no possibility of a lighter sentence, and up to $50,000 in fines.
- Class C. Life imprisonment and up to $50,000 in fines.
- Class 1. Up to 50 years imprisonment and $50,000 in fines.
- Class 2. Up to 25 years imprisonment and $50,000 in fines.
- Class 3. Up to 15 years imprisonment and $30,000 in fines.
- Class 4. Up to 10 years imprisonment and $20,000 in fines.
- Class 5. Up to 5 years imprisonment and $10,000 in fines.
- Class 6. Up to 2 years imprisonment and $4,000 in fines.
South Dakota also requires courts to impose additional penalties for people who are convicted of a felony offense and who have committed felony offenses in the past.
- One or two prior felony convictions. Anyone convicted of a felony who has one or two prior felony convictions will have their sentence increased to the next severity level. For example, people convicted of a Class 5 felony who have previously been convicted of a felony will have their sentences increased as if the person committed a Class 4 felony. However, a person with one or two prior felony convictions cannot have their current conviction increased above a class C Felony offense.
- Three or more prior felony convictions. Anyone convicted of a felony who has three or more prior felony convictions will have his or her sentence increased by two levels, up to a maximum level of a class C felony.
- Three or more prior felony convictions, one of which was violent. Anyone who has three or more prior felony convictions where at least one of those convictions involved the commission of a violent crime will have his or her sentence automatically increased to that of a class C felony.
Examples of Crimes in Each Level
South Dakota has numerous felony crimes. The following is a brief list of how the state categorizes some felony crimes, though it is not comprehensive.
- Second-degree murder
- First-degree aggravated kidnapping, victim suffers serious bodily injury
- First-degree rape
- First-degree aggravated kidnapping
- First-degree manslaughter
- Second-degree rape
- Second-degree kidnapping, victim suffers serious bodily harm
- First-degree arson
- First-degree robbery
- First-degree burglary
- Second-degree arson
- Second-degree robbery
- Second degree manslaughter
- Making a terrorist threat
- Internet gambling, second offense
- Internet gambling, first offense
- Sale of child pornography
Statute of Limitations
In South Dakota, as in all other states, prosecutors have a limited amount of time in which to file charges against anyone suspected of a crime. This time limit is established under the state statute of limitations, a sort of ticking clock that begins once someone commits a crime. If the lock runs out before prosecutors file charges, they lose the chance to charge someone for that particular crime.
In general, Class A, B, and C felonies in South Dakota have no time limits associated with them, while all other felonies have a seven-year statute of limitation. For a more detailed description of the law, you can read Criminal Statute of Limitations.
Talk to a South Dakota Criminal Defense Lawyer
Anyone facing a felony charge in South Dakota needs to speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your rights depend on your ability to present a strong defense, and you cannot adequately defend yourself against criminal charges unless you have the advice of an attorney who has practical experience dealing with local prosecutors and criminal courts. Even if you have yet to be charged but need legal advice, you need to talk to an attorney before you make any statement decision about your situation.