Survivors of sexual assault and child sexual abuse have options for justice in both criminal and civil court, but many may not know where to start. If you're a survivor, you may be looking for answers to concerns like:
- What type of prison sentence will my abuser face?
- Can others who enabled sexual abuse be held liable?
- How do civil sexual abuse lawsuits help survivors?
Our South Dakota sexual abuse victims' lawyers can help you stand up for your rights in civil court.
Anyone who commits or enables sexual abuse must be held accountable for the devastation they've caused.
"Thank you." The jury didn't convict the person responsible, but we found recourse through civil court.
Are you wondering how your state might prosecute the sexual offender who violated you or a loved one? It’s normal for victims to wonder what type of punishment their abusers may face. We’ve provided summaries of the South Dakota sexual assault and child sexual abuse statutes below, but remember that these laws frequently change. If you want to get a better idea of what type of sentence your abuser may receive, it’s best to discuss the details of your case with an experienced sexual assault victims’ rights lawyer.
How Civil Courts Help Victims Of Sexual Abuse
Surviving a traumatic sexual assault or childhood sexual abuse can affect you for the rest of your life. You may require medical treatment for physical injuries, therapy for emotional and mental damages, and struggle to return to your normal way of life. While seeing sexual predators brought to justice is an important part of the healing process, criminal courts only handle this one side of recovery. And in far too many cases, courts fail to make convictions or even arrests.
Fortunately, civil sexual abuse lawsuits offer another path to justice for victims. A lawsuit can help provide financial support for the wide range of struggles faced by survivors and hold offenders accountable when criminal courts fail to do so. Additionally, a lawsuit can help demand accountability from organizations and other third parties who were complicit in allowing the sexual assault to occur. If you want to find out more about your legal options as the survivor of a sexual crime in South Dakota, get in touch with us today for a free consultation.
Crimes Of Child Sexual Abuse
South Dakota has defined four crimes which specifically apply to sexual abuse of children:
In South Dakota, a person is guilty of aggravated incest if he or she knowingly engages in sexual penetration with a minor under 18 years old, and that minor is the legally considered the child of the offender – either through blood relations or as a foster child. This Class 3 felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Any adult 26 years of age or older who engages in sexual penetration with a victim younger than 13 years old is guilty of criminal pedophilia. This Class I felony is punishable by up to 50 years in prison and/or a maximum of $50,000 in fines.
Sexual Contact With Person Under 16
A person who engages in sexual contact (touching, groping, fondling, etc.) with a child under 16 years of age is guilty of sexual contact with a person under 16, which can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor:
- If the victim is at least 13 years old and the offender is less than 5 years older, the charge will be a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine up to $2,000, or both.
- If the offender is at least 16 and the victim is younger than 16, the charge will be a Class 3 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Sexual Exploitation Of A Minor
An adult can be convicted for sexual exploitation of a minor if he or she causes or knowingly allows a minor to participate in an activity (or simulation of an activity) that:
- Is harmful to minors;
- Involves nudity; or
- Is obscene
Upon a first conviction, this offense is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a maximum of $4,000 in fines. On a subsequent conviction within 15 years of the first one, the punishment is a maximum of 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
General Sexual Crime Statutes In South Dakota
In South Dakota, sexual crimes committed against adults may be prosecuted under one of several statutes:
In South Dakota, rape can be charged in one of four degrees, depending on the circumstances of the crime:
An offender will be charged with rape in the first degree if he or she engages in any sexual penetration with a child younger than 13 years of age. This Class C felony carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.
Any person who engages in sexual penetration with a victim under any of the following circumstances is considered guilty of second-degree rape in South Dakota:
- Through the use of force or threats of force against other people in the victim’s presence
- Through the use of force or threats of force against the victim
- Through the use of coercion
This Class 1 Felony is punishable by a maximum 50-year prison sentence and up to $50,000 in fines.
Rape will be charged in the third-degree if sexual penetration occurred under either of the following circumstances:
- The victim was unable to consent because of an intoxicant, narcotic, anesthetic agent, or hypnosis.
- The victim couldn’t consent because of a physical or mental incapacity
This Class 2 felony is punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000.
Cases of statutory rape are prosecuted as fourth-degree rape in South Dakota. A person can be charged with this crime if he or she engages in sexual penetration with a victim who is at least 13 but younger than 16 years old and the person is at least three years older than the victim.
Sexual Contact Without Consent
Any person 15 years of age or older who subjects another person to sexual contact without their consent is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and up to $2,000 in fines.
Unlawful Sexual Contact Or Penetration
Sexual contact between certain parties is prohibited by law in South Dakota. There are three laws which outlaw these types of sexual contact:
Correctional Facility Employees & Inmates
Employees of jails and juvenile correctional facilities are prohibited from engaging in any acts of sexual contact or sexual penetration with people who are in detention and under their custodial, supervisory, or disciplinary authority – even if the detainee or inmate consents to the act.
This Class 6 felony is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a maximum of $4,000 in fines.
Psychotherapists & Patients
Any psychotherapist who knowingly engages in sexual contact with a patient who is emotionally dependent on the psychotherapist is guilty of a Class 5 felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Victims Incapable Of Consent
Any person who is at least 15 years old and engages in sexual contact with another person 16 years or older when the other person is incapable of consent is guilty of a Class 4 felony. This includes any physical or mental incapacity which impairs the victim’s ability to consent.
This offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum of $20,000 in fines.