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.
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:
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. The Sioux Empire Teen Court is one such program. High school aged juveniles charged with offenses such as underage consumption, possession of marijuana and injury to property are sentenced by a jury of their peers.
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-*B-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-*B-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:
A juvenile sixteen or older committing a Class A, Class B, 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.
The Juvenile Prosecution Investigator position was created in 1996 to assist attorneys in the juvenile division in all matters involving juvenile crime. The Juvenile Prosecution Investigator provides assistance to victims and witnesses of crimes. Victims and witnesses are provided advocacy, support and referrals as their cases move through the criminal justice process.
Victims are provided information about their legal rights and are notified by our office of pending court dates and times, plea agreements, schedule changes and offender releases from placement settings.
Victims are assisted with restitution, release of property that has been recovered and placed into evidence. The Juvenile Prosecution Investigator also provides support to witnesses on criminal and child abuse cases and works as a link to Law Enforcement, School Resource Officers, Department of Social Services, Probation and Parole Services.