South Dakota is the only state that does not offer any legal assistance in prosecuting a person for a crime of sexual penetration or a sex offense of a sexual nature. This means that even the strongest charges of rape can be trumped by a lack of evidence in a criminal trial.
Under the state's penal code, the term “sexual contact” includes “sexual penetration.” It further defines penetration as occurring when two people of opposite sexes enter the body of one another with a penis or a sexual organ. As a result of the state's lack of legal aid in prosecuting sex crimes, a defense attorney may be able to help his client win his case. However, most attorneys will not have much success in defending a person who has been accused of a felony of sexual contact or a sex offense.
A person who has been charged with a violation of the state's penal code regarding sexual contact or a sex crime may be entitled to the same types of legal assistance that are available to those accused of felonies. If the accused feels that he is a victim of a violation of the code and is unable to obtain the appropriate legal representation, he may be eligible to pursue legal representation from the state's Department of Justice to provide legal representation to him or her.
If the accused's case goes to trial, South Dakota's state court system will provide both counsel and a jury trial to his or her client. The defense attorney will present all of the evidence that supports his or her client's innocence.
The state's penal code states that anyone accused of committing sexual penetration, or any sex crime, is entitled to the same rights afforded to those charged with felonies. These rights include being presumed innocent, the right to an attorney to represent him or her, and the right to an impartial jury.
In cases where the accused is convicted of a sexual offense in South Dakota, the accused must serve at least one-third of the sentence imposed by the court. For this reason, the accused is not given credit for the time served in jail or any other time spent on probation. This is a significant benefit to the accused, as it allows the individual to maintain a high standard of living while still serving time in jail.