Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

South Dakota has three very short but related purpose clauses; one overall clause mentions that proceedings are to be held in the best interest of the child (1994), another (1991) mentions affording guidance, control, and rehabilitation of any child in need of supervision or any delinquent child, and the clause found within the delinquent children chapter (2015) states the purpose as "...to establish an effective state and local system for delinquent children, which focuses on community-based rehabilitation."

SD ST §26-7A-5; §26-7A-6; §26-8C-1

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor.

In South Dakota, “juvenile cited violations” (designated delinquency or children in need of supervision violations) permit law enforcement officers (LEO’s) to use uniform traffic tickets to issue a summons, which get reported to the state’s attorney (DA) rather than the court. LEO’s can take custody of a child, but must seek approval from a court intake officer (JPO), who must find that criteria is met before LEO can transport a child to detention. A detention hearing is held within 24 hours.

Otherwise, upon receipt of a complaint from LEO or any other person, the DA conducts a preliminary investigation to determine whether to dismiss, divert, or initiate prosecution. Criteria for informal action or adjustment include: current allegation of a non-violent misdemeanor, no prior adjudication, and no prior informal action/adjustment within the last year. When meeting criteria, the DA must refer the matter to a court services officer (JPO) for supervision or make a referral to a court-approved diversion program. The DA may depart from the mandate to refer for diversion and file a petition with written justification to the court. The DA must notify the child of the petition and of their right to object to the decision in court. Upon motion of the child, the judge may rule to divert the child to informal action or informal adjustment. When referred to JPO for non-judicial adjustment/action, the child must admit to the facts and the JPO negotiates terms and conditions that require written consent from the child (of sufficient age/understanding) and parent/s for diversion. Informal action and informal adjustments can last for up to 4 months. Upon successful completion of terms/conditions, the petition may be dismissed.

Once a petition is filed, the court may suspend adjudication and order probation with conditions and other services when the child consents. Upon successful completion of terms/conditions, the petition may be dismissed. Following adjudication of delinquency, the court may continue the case for 7 days to seek recommendations from the JPO or an existing community response team to divert the juvenile from a Department of Corrections commitment to a community alternative disposition.

Pre-petition court diversion time limit/s exist.

In South Dakota, informal action or informal adjustment terms can last 4 months.  Once a petition is filed, time limits for suspended adjudications are not specified in statute.  Some dispositions can be diverted within 7 days of adjudication for an unspecified amount of time while conditions are being met. 

Courtroom shackling, 2015

No statewide restriction

Competency, 2015

South Dakota has many sections in statute related to juvenile competency, which align with the Dusky standard. Incompetent Juveniles are not subject to delinquency or Children in Need of Supervision adjudications when there is reasonable cause to believe the juvenile is suffering from a mental illness or developmental disability rendering the juvenile incompetent to proceed. In assessing the juvenile's competency, the examiner shall compare the juvenile being examined to juvenile norms for a juvenile of a similar age and the juvenile's level of developmental skills

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015


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Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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