As a general rule, the juvenile court has jurisdiction over offenses committed by a child, defined as being a person under the age of eighteen at the time of the offense. Traffic misdemeanors and petty offenses are not brought into juvenile court but remain in adult court in the Magistrate Division. Offenses that would be criminal if committed by an adult are delinquencies if committed by a person between ten and eighteen.
26-8C-2. * Delinquents – Definition – “Delinquent child.”
In this chapter and chapter 26-7A, the term, delinquent child, means any child ten years of age or older who, regardless of where the violation occurred, has violated any federal, state, or local law or regulation for which there is a penalty of a criminal nature for an adult, except state or municipal hunting, fishing, boating, park, or traffic laws that are classified as misdemeanors, or petty offenses or any violation of 35-9-2.
Additionally, a juvenile may be brought into court charged as a child in need of supervision (CHINS) for behavior which is not criminal but violates laws applying only to juveniles. Truancy, underage consumption, and running away from home are CHINS offenses. If a criminal offense is committed by a person under the age of ten, that child can be brought into court as a CHINS.
26-8B-2. CHINS – Definition – “Child in need of supervision.”
In this chapter and chapter 26-7A, the term child in need of supervision, means:
Any child of compulsory school age who is habitually absent from school without legal excuse;
Any child who has run away from home or is otherwise beyond the control of the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian;
Any child whose behavior or condition endangers the child’s own welfare or the welfare of others;
Any child who has violated any federal, state, or local law or regulation for which there is not a penalty of criminal nature for an adult, except violations of subdivision 34-46-2(2), or petty offenses; or
Any child who has violated 35-9-2.
Juveniles taken into custody by law enforcement are taken to the Juvenile Detention Center(JDC). The JDC determines whether to release the juvenile to a parent or hold for a temporary custody hearing. Temporary custody hearings are held before the Juvenile Court within twenty-four hours excluding weekends and holidays.
The State’s Attorney has the option of diverting juvenile cases to a court-approved program for ninety days as an alternative to filing a petition. First-time, non-violent offenders then have the opportunity to admit their wrongdoing and complete a diversion program. If they are successful, they are not petitioned into court.
Juveniles are charged when the State’s Attorney files a petition. All juvenile proceedings are conducted under the best interests of the child standard.
If the juvenile is in custody, the petition is served on the parent at the temporary custody hearing; if the juvenile was not arrested or was released to a parent, the parent will be served a copy of the petition and a summons to court by the Sheriff’s Office. The summons will give the place, date, and time of a court hearing. Both the parent and child must appear at that hearing.
Juveniles have all the same Constitutional Rights as adults but one – they are not entitled to a jury trial but are tried before the court. If the juvenile wants an attorney, and the parents cannot afford to hire an attorney, a public attorney may be appointed to represent the juvenile. Parents must reimburse the county for the attorney fees when the case is completed. At initial appearance the juvenile is advised of all his rights:
If the juvenile denies the charges, a pre-trial conference is scheduled with the State’s Attorney. If the case is not resolved after the meeting, a trial date is scheduled by the court. If the juvenile admits, the judge may proceed immediately to sentencing or, in more serious cases, may request a court service officer to prepare a case history to help guide the court at sentencing. The judge has all the options set out in SDCL 26-8B-6 for sentencing any CHINS offense.
Sentencing for a delinquency offense includes the additional option of ninety days in custody for each offense and changes the maximum fine to $1000. The child and parent may be required to participate in programs of care, treatment or rehabilitation for the juvenile. Parents are financially responsible for the services provided. South Dakota law also provides that a parent may be sued civilly for damage caused by his child.
26-8B-6. CHINS – Decree of disposition – Alternatives.
If a child has been adjudicated as a child in need of supervision, the court shall enter a decree of disposition according to the least restrictive alternative available in keeping with the best interests of the child. The decree shall contain one or more of the following alternatives:
The court may place the child on probation or under protective supervision in the custody of one or both parents, guardian, relative, or another suitable person under conditions imposed by the court;
The court may require as a condition of probation that the child report for assignment to a supervised work program, provided the child is not placed in a detention facility and is not deprived of the schooling that is appropriate to the child’s age, needs, and specific rehabilitative goals. The supervised work program shall be of a constructive nature designed to promote rehabilitation, shall be appropriate to the age level and physical ability of the child and shall be combined with counseling by a court services officer or other guidance personnel. The supervised work program assignment shall be made for a period of time consistent with the child’s best interests, but may not exceed ninety days;
If the court finds that the child has violated a valid court order, the court may place the child in a detention facility, for purposes of disposition if:
The court may require the child to pay for any damage done to property or for medical expenses under conditions set by the court if payment can be enforced without serious hardship or injustice to the child;
The court may commit the child to the Department of Corrections for placement in a juvenile correctional facility, foster home, group home, group care center, or residential treatment center pursuant to chapter 26-11A. Prior to placement in a juvenile correctional facility, an interagency team comprised of representatives from the Department of Human Services, Department of Social Services, Department of Education, the Department of Corrections, and the Unified Judicial System shall make a written finding that placement at a Department of Corrections facility is the least restrictive placement commensurate with the best interests of the child. Subsequent placement in any other Department of Corrections facility may be authorized without an interagency review;
The court may place a child in an alternative educational program;
The court may order the child to be examined and treated at the Human Services Center;
The court many impose a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars;
The court many order the suspension or revocation of the child’s driving privilege or restrict the privilege in such manner as it sees fit or as required by 32-12-52.4;
The court may assess or charge the same costs and fees as permitted by custodian, or other party responsible for the child.
No adjudicated child in need of supervision may be incarcerated in a detention facility except as provided in subdivision (3) or (5) of this section.
A juvenile sixteen or older committing a Class A, Class B, Class C, Class 1 or Class 2 felony may be directly charged in as an adult. Juvenile charged with other felonies may be transferred from juvenile to adult court after a hearing.