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South Dakota Court Records

South Dakota Court Records are the official documentation of state court events. The South Dakota Supreme Court Rules govern the creation and maintenance of these documents. They provide written documentation of court proceedings and play an essential role in comprehending legal procedures, following cases, completing legal obligations, and addressing personal needs.

These records offer a lot of information that may provide light on the status of a case, such as the hearing date, disposition, case judgments, charges, and names of the individuals involved. They include essential facts about a case and are helpful for people seeking a thorough grasp of its development.

The South Dakota Sunshine Law and the Unified Judicial System Court Records Rule establish the legal right of all South Dakota residents and other interested parties to access court records. With these laws, the general public can see and get copies of court documents upon request.

Despite this widespread accessibility, some court records are private and unavailable to the public. Federal law, state law, or court guidelines govern the confidentiality of these documents.

Such private data include those that, if exposed, might cause damage to the general public, such as adoption files and records, abortion records, abuse and neglect court records, and personal information of a party that has sought privacy.

When a party in a lawsuit wishes to restrict access to their court documents, they may file a request with the court. The court will notify all parties concerned, and any additional interested parties' objections will be heard. If the purpose of the request surpasses the reason for limiting access, the Supreme Court may give access to certain confidential information.

Which South Dakota Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?

Understanding the state's court system is essential for those pursuing court records in South Dakota. In addition to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the state, the South Dakota trial court system maintains and can provide individuals access to court records upon request. And this system primarily comprises the following courts:

South Dakota Circuit Courts

The South Dakota Circuit Courts possess extensive jurisdiction over various civil and criminal cases. These courts have the authority to adjudicate a broad spectrum of legal issues that extend beyond the purview of Magistrate Courts.

The Circuit Courts in South Dakota are responsible for adjudicating a wide range of criminal offenses, which include felonies, certain misdemeanors, and violations of municipal ordinances. On the other hand, in civil proceedings, they can hear civil claims of a general nature that entail damages amounting to $12,000 or greater.

In addition to these criminal and civil proceedings, South Dakota Circuit Courts are responsible for resolving cases about domestic relations, encompassing issues such as divorce, annulment, and determining child custody.

Furthermore, these courts handle matters about individuals under the age of legal adulthood, legal proceedings related to the distribution of a deceased person's estate, cases involving fairness and justice, and conflicts arising from the ownership and separation of real property.

Certain South Dakota Circuit Courts may also function with a specialized division called a drug court. This department concentrates on cases involving nonviolent criminal activities related to drug offenses, providing alternative methodologies to conventional criminal justice protocols.

South Dakota Magistrate Courts

The jurisdiction of South Dakota Magistrate Courts is restricted to specific categories of civil and criminal cases.

Regarding criminal proceedings, these courts can handle preliminary hearings for all criminal cases, trials for misdemeanors, and most municipal ordinance violations.

The criminal jurisdiction of Magistrate Courts encompasses various aspects. It contains activities such as accepting pleas from the accused, making determinations regarding committals, such as transferring the case to a higher court, addressing bond forfeiture matters, and carrying out additional legal proceedings of a similar nature.

In civil proceedings, Magistrate Courts in South Dakota have jurisdiction over debts, damages, claims, or properties with a value not exceeding $12,000. The Small Claims division within Magistrate Courts is designated to handle specific civil claims involving less than $12,000.

In addition to the jurisdiction mentioned above,  these courts can process petitions for temporary abuse protection orders and address specific mental health cases or adult drug court cases assigned by the Circuit Courts.

What are the Common Public Court Records in South Dakota?

Public court records in South Dakota consist of a wide array of documents that provide transparency and insight into the workings of the state's judicial system. Below are the most commonly requested and publicly accessible South Dakota Court Records:

South Dakota Civil and Small Claims Records

The South Dakota Civil Court Records are the official records of the court cases and hearings that have been decided in the state's Civil Courts.

The scope of the Civil Court Records is vast, comprising many cases, mainly general civil claims with damages of $12,000 or more. These cases may include a range of issues extending beyond financial claims, including conflicts related to restraining orders and properties.

On the other hand, the South Dakota Small Claims Court Records refer to the official records related to the cases heard in the Small Claims Courts of South Dakota. These courts provide a non-formal setting for individuals to seek redress for minor financial losses or property disputes.

According to the South Dakota Codified Laws section 16-12C-13, the prescribed monetary threshold for small claims in South Dakota is $12,000 or below. In contrast to Civil Court cases, small claims court proceedings generally do not necessitate the participation of legal professionals.

Despite their disparities, South Dakota Civil Court Records and South Dakota Small Claims Court Records provide a comprehensive overview of the cases, offering information about the parties involved, the nature of the claims, court decisions, and pertinent supporting documents.

How To Access South Dakota Civil and Small Claims Records

In South Dakota, accessing Civil Court Records and Small Claims Court Records involves interacting with the state's Circuit Courts and Magistrate Courts, which maintain these records.

Generally, individuals interested in obtaining these records should visit the clerk of the appropriate court in the county where the case occurred.

The Circuit Court Clerk maintains all civil court records, while the Magistrate Courts handle small claims cases. In South Dakota, every Magistrate Court has designated a specialized division responsible for adjudicating small claims cases within its respective jurisdiction.

In these offices, individuals can request specific case files by providing details such as the parties' names, the case number, or the dates of the proceedings. Some courts may charge a fee for copying and certifying documents.

South Dakota Criminal Records

In South Dakota, criminal records, also known as rap sheets, summarize a person's criminal history. Generally, these records provide comprehensive information about arrests, convictions, and periods of incarceration.

Law enforcement agencies, employers, and landlords often use these records for background checks. By accessing criminal records, various entities and members of the general public can obtain valuable information regarding an individual's history of illegal activities. These pieces of information enable them to prioritize safety and make well-informed decisions.

In addition to the comprehensive information about arrests, convictions, and periods of incarceration, criminal records in South Dakota typically include details such as the person's name, any known aliases, physical descriptors, sex, fingerprints, charges, age, and race.

Access to South Dakota Criminal Records is vital in maintaining public safety, facilitating background checks, and assisting decision-making processes. However, the state administration advises the public to handle these records responsibly, respecting privacy rights and adhering to legal requirements.

How To Obtain Criminal Records in South Dakota

Aside from the state courts, interested individuals can obtain criminal records in South Dakota through the Computerized Criminal History (CCH) system, overseen by the Office of the Attorney General. Accessing criminal records via the CCH system provides a centralized and comprehensive source of information.

The first step is to initiate a written request to the South Dakota Attorney General's Office or the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), which manages the CCH system. When making the request, individuals should include essential details, such as the full name and any additional identifying information of the person whose criminal records they seek.

In the request, individuals should clearly state their purpose for seeking the criminal records and their relationship to the person in question. Providing specific reasons for the request can help streamline the process and ensure compliance with privacy regulations.

Upon submitting the written request, the requester must follow any additional instructions provided by the South Dakota Attorney General's Office or the DCI. It may include signing any required authorization and release forms or providing supporting documents to verify the requestor's identity and eligibility to access the requested records.

Furthermore, fees may be associated with obtaining criminal records through the CCH system. For additional information on the payment required and other requirements, visit the CCH system page on the official Attorney General's Office website.  

South Dakota Traffic Records

One of the publicly accessible South Dakota Court Records is traffic records. South Dakota Traffic Records are official documents that provide a comprehensive history of a driver's traffic-related activities, such as traffic tickets and license suspensions.

In addition to the South Dakota courts, the South Dakota Department of Public Safety (DPS) creates and maintains these records. Individuals can access and obtain copies of these public traffic records within the state by contacting the appropriate agency.

However, there are restrictions on accessing certain information contained in these records due to the Driver's Privacy and Protection Act (DPPA).

According to this federal law, personal information found in a public traffic record, such as the record holder's name, address, driver's license number, social security number, and phone number, cannot be shared without the consent of the individual to whom the record belongs.

Despite these restrictions, specific parties can access personal information in South Dakota Traffic Records under the DPPA. These parties include the record holder themselves, individuals with written authorization from the record holder, employers conducting background checks, vehicle insurance companies, and civil, criminal, and administrative courts.

Once obtained, South Dakota Traffic Records provide detailed information about a driver's motor vehicle history within and outside the state. The requester with complete access to these records can get the person's name, address, gender, license number, classification, status, and expiration date.

Additionally, they can obtain information on traffic violations and convictions, any restrictions imposed on the license or driving privileges (if applicable), records of traffic accidents, and accumulated demerit points of the record holder.

How To Access South Dakota Traffic Records

South Dakota Traffic Records are available from the South Dakota DPS and obtainable in person or by mail.

Regardless of the chosen method, the first step is downloading and printing the appropriate request form. The requester must complete and notarize this form before submission. The type of form to use depends on the specific record being sought and the purpose.

Individuals must use the Request from Record Holder form to request their driving record or authorize someone else to order it. The form allows for selecting a complete driving history, a three-year history, or a three-year CDL history.

For a company driving record request, companies seeking driving records of their employees, drivers, or customers must complete the Request to Obtain Abstract form. The form provides options to select either a non-commercial driving record or a commercial one for each individual.

Note that when requesting a company driving record request, the company must obtain written consent from the driver. This written consent should state that the driver allows the South Dakota Driver Licensing Program to release the requested information and should be retained by the company for their records.

Once completed, submit the appropriate form to the specified address with the required fee as a check or money order.

Those who prefer to obtain their traffic records in person can visit an exam station. Individuals must present valid identification and pay the required fee in cash or by personal check when requesting these records in person.

The advantage of an in-person request is receiving the traffic record immediately. Notably, exam stations in Aberdeen, Brookings, Mitchell, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown, and Yankton efficiently provide prompt access to three-year driving records.

South Dakota Probate Records

South Dakota Probate Records are legal documents created after the death of an individual residing in the state.

These records pertain to the distribution of the deceased's property and estate following the deceased's will, if one existed. If a person dies without leaving a will, the South Dakota Uniform Probate Code governs the distribution of their property among their family members.

Probate records in South Dakota provide vital information such as the deceased person's date of death, a list of their personal property and real estate, their debts, the names of their heirs or closest relatives, and who received what part of the estate.

Genealogists and family historians may use these records for tracing family history, as they provide crucial links to past generations. Similarly, lawyers and financial advisors may need to access these records for legal or economic research.

In South Dakota, the Circuit Courts manage probate records in each county. Specifically, each county's Circuit Court has a probate division responsible for overseeing the probate process and maintaining these records. Anyone wishing to access South Dakota Probate Records should contact the Circuit Court in the county where the deceased individual resided.

Typically, obtaining South Dakota Probate Records involves a formal request process. The process may include filling out a request form, paying a fee, and potentially waiting a specific period for request processing. Some older records might also be available through the State Archives of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

South Dakota Family Records

South Dakota Family Records from courts refer to the official documentation compiled during family-related legal proceedings, encompassing a comprehensive history of decisions made within the purview of the designated courts in the state.

The information in these records can vary depending on the specific case in question. They may often contain details about the individuals involved, including names, ages, addresses, and sometimes even occupations.

These records may also include a comprehensive account of the case, providing insights into the nature of the dispute, evidence presented, testimonies given, and the final judgment. Common types of cases included in these records are divorces, child custody disputes, adoptions, domestic abuse cases, and child and spousal support matters.

Family court records in South Dakota play a pivotal role in maintaining the integrity of the judicial process and safeguarding citizens' rights. They can prove crucial in legal scenarios such as enforcing child custody arrangements or spousal support payments. Beyond this, these records offer invaluable insights for those conducting genealogical research or background checks.

The Circuit Courts have jurisdiction over family law matters and, thus, are the primary producers and custodians of these records. One can access information from these records by formally requesting the court clerk's office that filed the case. For information about the specific application process and any associated fees, it is best to contact the relevant office directly.

Note that the availability of South Dakota Family Court Records varies. While some records are public, the court may seal or restrict others, especially those involving minors or sensitive information, to uphold privacy.

South Dakota Bankruptcy Records

The primary responsibility for maintaining South Dakota Court Records lies with the state trial courts. However, the responsibility for bankruptcy filings and related records resides within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts for the District of South Dakota, an integral component of the federal court system.

Bankruptcy in South Dakota is a legal process guided by federal rules, which the state's federal courts handle. It's a way for people or businesses who can't pay their debts to get help. It may involve selling off properties they own or creating a plan to repay their debts.

One must file a petition at one of South Dakota's bankruptcy courthouses to start this process. Once filed, protection from creditors begins, and after repaying the debt, a letter is received that frees the debtor from the responsibility of certain obligations.

After the bankruptcy proceeding, the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts in South Dakota make bankruptcy records generally accessible to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. These records may contain vital information about an individual's or corporation's financial status, including the type of bankruptcy filed, assets and liabilities, creditor claims, and the court's decision.

The type of bankruptcy filed could be Chapter 7 (liquidation), Chapter 11 (reorganization for businesses), or Chapter 13 (debt repayment plan for individuals), among others. Each type has distinct processes and outcomes reflected in the records.

South Dakota Bankruptcy Records offer transparency into the bankruptcy process, hold parties accountable, and protect the rights of both debtors and creditors. Furthermore, these records can be helpful in legal scenarios, credit analysis, and background checks.

How To Obtain Bankruptcy Records in South Dakota

Obtaining bankruptcy records in South Dakota can be accomplished in person or online.

Individuals must visit the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Pierre or Sioux Falls if opting for an in-person approach. These locations host computer terminals containing comprehensive lists of businesses and individuals who have filed for bankruptcy.

Individuals must engage with the court clerk that initially filed the case to view a specific record. The process involves completing a form detailing essential information, such as the case number and the document title.

Once completed, individuals can print the records directly from the courthouse computers. However, one must pay a small fee for this service, payable by money order or check.

For those favoring a more digitized approach, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service offers an online platform for obtaining bankruptcy records. Users must create an account on this platform before accessing case information from the South Dakota Bankruptcy Courts.

Per-page costs are associated with obtaining information through PACER, a factor worth considering for those seeking extensive documentation.

However, PACER does not grant access to records exceeding 15 years of age. These records are transported to Denver Federal Records Center (FRC). Individuals must visit the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website to acquire these archived records.

To successfully retrieve records from NARA, individuals must supply specific details such as the state and city of the court, the case number, the debtor's name(s), FRC transfer number, box number, and location number.

Costs for this service vary depending on the type of file requested.

South Dakota does indeed have a case search facilitated by the South Dakota Unified Judicial System website. This platform provides two primary case search management systems: the Public Access Record Search (PARS) and the Online Judgment Query System (OJQS).

The PARS caters to users seeking information on criminal cases and domestic, stalking, and foreign protection orders. Users must input specific details, such as a person's name and date of birth, to obtain the desired information through PARS.

However, the system charges a fee for each search, which applies even if the search yields no results. The PARS offers two payment options for user needs: 'Pay as you go' via credit card for individual inquiries or a 'draw-down' account for large volume or multiple name record searches. One should contact PARS support for assistance in setting up a draw-down account.

In contrast, the OJQS offers public access to the state court's civil judgment database. Users can retrieve judgments by providing the name and date, while subscribers get access to additional advanced tools for retrieving and downloading data. Registration for this system is free and maintains user confidentiality.

If the desired South Dakota Court Records are unavailable through these two systems, individuals can ask the Clerk of Courts of the South Dakota Unified Judicial System. Every county in South Dakota has a Clerk of Court responsible for maintaining court records within their jurisdiction.

Individuals can request access to the desired records by personally visiting the appropriate Clerk of Court or submitting a written request through the mail. They can also inquire via telephone with the Clerk of Court about accessing court records and seek guidance regarding the necessary steps to obtain the desired information.


Counties in South Dakota

Courts in South Dakota

Minnehaha County Circuit Court425 N Dakota Avenue, Sioux Falls, SD
Pennington County Circuit Court315 St Joseph St #5, Rapid City, SD
Lincoln County Circuit Court104 N Main Street, Canton, SD
Brown County Circuit Court101 SE 1st Avenue, Aberdeen, SD
Brookings County Circuit Court314 6th Avenue Suite 6, Brookings, SD
Codington County Circuit Court14 1st Ave SE, Watertown, SD
Meade County Magistrate Court1425 Sherman Street, Sturgis, SD
Lawrence County Magistrate Court78 Sherman Street, Deadwood, SD
Yankton County Magistrate Court410 Walnut Street Suite 205, Yankton, SD
Davison County Magistrate Court200 E. 4th Avenue, Mitchell, SD