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Finding Court Records in South Dakota

South Dakota Courts Overview

It helps to understand how the South Dakota state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The South Dakota trial court system consists of Circuit Courts and Magistrate Courts.

Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, and typically handle cases beyond the jurisdiction of Magistrate Courts. Magistrate Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.

If you prefer, you can start your search by going to South Dakota Courts by County.

South Dakota Circuit Courts

Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, and generally handle cases beyond the jurisdiction of Magistrate Courts.

Criminal cases heard by Circuit Courts include all felonies, some misdemeanors, and some municipal ordinance violations.

Civil cases heard by Circuit Courts include general civil claims for $12,000 or more in damages. Circuit Courts also handle domestic relations, juvenile matters, probate matters, and equity cases, including divorce, annulment, guardianship, conservatorships, domestic violence protection, disputes over the title or boundary to real estate, proceedings in chancery, and proceedings in equity.

A Circuit Court may operate a drug court division for certain types of nonviolent criminal cases.

South Dakota Magistrate Courts

Magistrate Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.

Criminal cases heard by Magistrate Courts include preliminary hearings for all criminal cases, misdemeanors trials, and most violations of municipal ordinances. Magistrate Courts have some jurisdiction over the acceptance of pleas, forfeiture of bonds, committals, and other types of proceedings related to criminal cases.

Civil cases heard by Magistrate Courts include most general civil cases for a debt, damage, claim, or property valued at less than $12,000. Magistrate Courts each have a Small Claims division for certain civil claims for less than $12,000.

Magistrate Courts also handle requests for temporary abuse protection orders.

Magistrate Courts can handle some mental health cases or sdult drug court cases assigned by Circuit Courts.

South Dakota Tribal Courts

South Dakota also has a separate Tribal Courts system that handles violations of tribal ordinances and civil cases between tribe members.

Where to Find Court Cases in South Dakota

The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of South Dakota court.

Most Cases = Most or all cases.     Some Cases = Some cases.

Case Type Court Type
Civil Circuit Courts Magistrate Courts
General Civil - Unlimited Most or All Cases  
General Civil - Limited Some Cases Some Cases
Small Claims   Most or All Cases
Civil Equity Most or All Cases  
Complex Commercial Most or All Cases  
Foreclosures and Liens Some Cases Some Cases
Real Estate Title and Boundary Most or All Cases  
Landlord / Tenant Some Cases Some Cases
Ordinance Violations Some Cases Most or All Cases
Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders Most or All Cases Some Cases
Administrative Agency Appeals Most or All Cases  
Criminal Circuit Courts Magistrate Courts
Felony Most or All Cases  
Felony Preliminary Hearings Some Cases Some Cases
Misdemeanors Some Cases Some Cases
Ordinance Violations Some Cases Most or All Cases
Juvenile Most or All Cases  
Traffic and Infractions Some Cases Most or All Cases
Domestic Relations Circuit Courts Magistrate Courts
Divorce Most or All Cases  
Child Custody and Visitation Most or All Cases  
Child Support Most or All Cases  
Paternity Most or All Cases  
Domestic Violence Protection Order Most or All Cases Some Cases
Juvenile Circuit Courts Magistrate Courts
Adoptions Most or All Cases  
Juvenile Delinquency Most or All Cases  
Child Abuse and Neglect Most or All Cases  
Termination of Parental Rights Most or All Cases  
Children in Need of Supervision Most or All Cases  
Mental Health Circuit Courts Magistrate Courts
Involuntary Commitments Most or All Cases Some Cases
Other Mental Health Cases Most or All Cases Some Cases
Probate Circuit Courts Magistrate Courts
Wills & Estates Most or All Cases  
Name Changes Most or All Cases  
Trusts Most or All Cases  
Guardianships and Conservatorships Most or All Cases  

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