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South Dakota Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic violence is a serious criminal offense that generally refers to physical harm, or the threat of physical harm, inflicted by one family or household member against another. In South Dakota, domestic violence (also referred to as domestic abuse) can only be committed between family members. The table below outlines South Dakota's main domestic violence law.

Code Section

South Dakota Code chapter 10: Protection from Domestic Abuse

What's Prohibited?

Domestic abuse occurs when an offender causes physical harm or bodily injury, attempts to cause physical harm or bodily injury, or inflicts the fear of imminent physical harm or bodily injury against a family member.

Definition of "Family"

Under South Dakota's domestic abuse law, a "family member" is limited to:
  • Spouses or former spouses
  • People in a significant romantic relationship
  • People who have a child together or who are expecting a child
  • People in a parent – child relationship, and
  • Siblings

Domestic Violence Arrests

South Dakota has a law that governs police officers who respond to domestic violence calls. If the responding officer has probable cause to believe that the parties involved in the domestic dispute have assaulted each other, the officer isn't required to arrest both people. Instead, the officer shall arrest the person whom the officer believes to be the predominant physical aggressor. In order to make this determination, the police officer takes into account the following factors:

  • The intent to protect victims of domestic abuse
  • The comparative extent of the injuries inflicted or serious threats creating fear of physical injury, and
  • The history of domestic violence between the parties involved

Protective Orders

One of the main ways that a domestic violence survivor can help protect themselves from further abuse is by petitioning the court for a protective order. While a protective order isn't able to guarantee future safety, it does allow the victim to have the abuser arrested if any provision of the order is violated. If the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that domestic abuse has taken place, the court may issue a protective order that provides the following relief:

  • Restrain the offender from committing additional acts of domestic abuse
  • Exclude the offender from the parties' shared home, or from the victim's home
  • Award temporary custody or establish temporary visitation regarding the parties' minor children
  • Establish temporary support for minor children or a spouse
  • Order the offending party to obtain counseling, and/or
  • Order other relief that the court deems necessary to protect the victim

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding South Dakota's domestic violence laws contact a local criminal defense attorney.

If you're a domestic violence survivor there is help available for you. During an emergency dial 911 and when you're safe contact South Dakota Coalition Ending Domestic & Sexual Violence.

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