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.
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South Dakota Circuit CourtsCircuit 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 CourtsMagistrate 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 CourtsSouth 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 DakotaThe chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of court in South Dakota.