How to obtain court records in South Dakota

How to obtain court records in South Dakota

The South Dakota court system is comprised of two types of courts, Circuit Courts and Magistrate Courts. In addition, South Dakota also has a separate Tribal Courts system that takes care of violations of tribal ordinances and civil cases between members of the tribe.

South Dakota’s Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases.  They generally take care of cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of Magistrate Courts. Magistrate Courts in South Dakota, on the other hand, have limited jurisdiction over certain kinds of civil and criminal cases.

In order to obtain court records for a particular case, you first need to know what types of cases are heard in each type of South Dakota court and the county in which the case was heard.

Where to start your search

Criminal cases including all felonies, some misdemeanors, and some municipal ordinance violations are heard by South Dakota’s circuit courts. Civil cases heard by the Circuit Courts include general civil claims for $12,000 or more in damages. In addition, Circuit Courts also handle domestic relations, juvenile and probate matters, equity cases, domestic violence protection, real estate cases, and proceedings in chancery.

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

Civil cases that are heard by Magistrate Courts include most general civil cases valued at less than $12,000. Each court has a Small Claims division set up to handle certain civil claims for less than $12,000.

A Circuit Court in South Dakota may operate a drug court division for certain types of nonviolent crimes while a Magistrate Court can handle some mental health cases or adult drug court cases assigned by Circuit Courts.

Finding the records you need

Any information on courts and court cases in South Dakota can be found on the state’s administrator of the courts website also known as the court reference website. The state has established a system for obtaining court records in South Dakota.

For civil record searches and questions regarding criminal and civil record searches, you can send an e-mail to: [email protected].  Criminal and protection order searches are available on the Public Access System or PARS at: There is a $20 fee for each submitted search. There is a timeline involved for handling all requests.

You can also contact a specific clerk of court office for other court records needs and requests.