Aug, 2017

Written by kdadmin,
posted in Wilka, Welter & Ash LLP Law Blog.

South Dakota Alternatives to Sentencing Part 1

South Dakota Alternatives to Sentencing: Suspended Imposition of Sentence

In the state of South Dakota, if you have committed a crime, there exist two methods by which you may be able to avoid the imposition of a sentence and eventually have that crime removed from your permanent record. The first alternative to sentencing is called Suspended Imposition of Sentence, which does not require a judgment of guilt and may be used in certain cases for both a felony and a misdemeanor crime. The second alternative, the topic of next month’s blog, is Drug Court, which requires a guilty judgment, but removes the plea from a permanent record upon successful completion.

Suspended Imposition of Sentence (Suspended Imp)

If you are convicted of a crime not punishable by death or life in prison, either misdemeanor or felony, have never before been convicted of a felony, and have never before been granted a suspended imposition of sentence by any other state, you are entitled by law to ask the sentencing judge for a suspended imposition of sentence. If the judge agrees that it is in the best interest of justice and in your best interest, the judge may institute a probationary period in lieu of a judgment of guilt and imposition of sentence. The probation conditions are at the discretion of the judge and any violation can lead to revocation of the suspended imposition and the judge may impose the sentence without any credit for the period of probation already completed. In the legislative session of 2016, the South Dakota legislature made clear the law on suspended impositions. It now states a person may use one suspended imposition for a felony and one for a misdemeanor charge, meaning that you may use two in a lifetime.

It is important to understand that a suspended imposition only seals your record from the public view once you have successfully completed your term of probation. It DOES NOT erase your record. For instance, if you are charged with a DUI and use your suspended imposition and you get another DUI within ten years, the court will still consider it a second DUI. Additionally, the penalty that is suspended over you is the maximum penalty by law that you could have been sentenced for the offense. Meaning, if you receive a Class 1 Misdemeanor charge, the penalty could be one year in jail and a one thousand dollar fine. If you violate the terms of the suspended imposition, the penalty is usually much more harsh than if you would have made a plea deal with the prosecution and plead guilty to the offense. Finally, a suspended imposition does not stop the revocation of a person’s driver’s license, which is an administrative penalty in a DUI conviction.

If you have been charged with a crime and think that you might qualify for a suspended imposition, there are many factors to consider and you will need an attorney to argue your case before a judge. The lawyers at Wilka, Welter & Ash have the experience and reputation you need to make your best case.